WISCASSET, Maine — A Jefferson man charged with shooting a Labrador retriever with 80-100 BBs while he was drunk has struck a deal with prosecutors and will plead guilty to aggravated cruelty to animals.
Aaron Armstrong, 33, who at the time lived in Waldoboro but now lists his residence as Jefferson, was arrested June 13, and indicted in September by a Lincoln County grand jury on a Class C charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Under the terms of a deal, Armstrong will plead guilty and be sentenced to time already served, his attorney, David Paris, said Thursday.
According to court documents, Armstrong served 140 days at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset before he was released Nov. 1 to house arrest — on $25,000 surety bond.
Among the conditions of his Nov. 1 release, Armstrong may not have contact with or possess domestic animals.
Paris said he was not sure when his client would appear in court and declined further comment on the pending plea agreement.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wright did not respond to calls for comment.
Armstrong initially pleaded not guilty at his Nov. 1 arraignment.
According to an affidavit submitted by Waldoboro police and included in court documents, officers went to Armstrong’s home on June 13, about 10 days after an abandoned puppy was found near Orffs Corner. A veterinarian’s examination of the dog revealed almost 100 BB lodged in its body.
Armstrong allegedly later told Waldoboro police Detective Jason Benefield that after he saw news reports about the dog’s shooting, he hid a BB gun and ammunition in his attic.
“Armstrong also said he shot the black Labrador behind his house or wherever the dog happened to be while he was extremely intoxicated,” the affidavit states. “He said the dog was not responding to training and when he drank he became angry with the dog.”
The state charges that, “On June 1, 2013 … in a manner manifesting a depraved indifference to animal life or suffering, [Armstrong] did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause extreme physical pain to kill or physically torture an animal.”
The dog, since adopted and named Lady by South Bristol resident Peter Blanton, was discovered by Waldoboro Animal Control Officer Laurice Ducharme and taken to the Lincoln County Animal Shelter in Edgecomb. Later, X-rays reviewed by veterinarian Dean Domeyer revealed 80 to 100 BBs lodged in the dog’s body.
“This dog is riddled with BB shots from her nose to her tail,” shelter manager Carrie Koskela said at the time.
On Friday, Blanton declined to comment on Armstrong’s pending plea agreement, but he said Lady has turned out to be “a very loving dog” — if a little unruly.
“It’s funny — I think the previous owner let her have the run of the house,” Blanton said, chuckling during a phone conversation. “She was hopping up on the furniture, and up on the counter to get whatever food she could. She had to learn the rules of the house. But we’re very happy to have her. She’s going to be a very good dog.”