November 14, 2019
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Owner of dead dog frustrated with slow pace of case against alleged killers

Bill Trotter | BDN
Bill Trotter | BDN
Phil Torrey of Winter Harbor wears a T-shirt that reads "Justice for Franky" as supporters stand behind him Thursday outside the local courthouse. Torrey has expressed frustration in the progress of the case about the killing of Franky, his dog. A defense attorney for one of the two men accused of killing Franky said Thursday that the case was continued to next spring allow prosecutors more time to gather evidence.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A man whose dog was allegedly shot and killed intentionally says he is frustrated by the pace of progress in the criminal cases against the two suspects.

Standing outside the Ellsworth courthouse Thursday morning, surrounded by supporters waving signs with photos of Franky the dog, Phillip Torrey said he wants the case to move forward. The case was scheduled Thursday for a routine dispositional conference, so the attorneys could update a judge on how the case is progressing.

“I’m feeling like I hope something happens [today]. I don’t feel confident that it [will],” he said, adding that he expects it will get continued to a later date. “We keep getting told that it is not uncommon for this to happen.”

Courtsey of Phillip Torrey | BDN
Courtsey of Phillip Torrey | BDN
Franky.

Torrey said he continues to get messages of support from around the country, many from people he doesn’t know, about getting justice for Franky. Several people driving cars by the courthouse honked their horns in support as Torrey spoke.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “Everybody knows that feeling that no matter how you feel about politics or the world or what’s right and wrong, when you come home and your pet is there, it kind of makes everything right. You’re happy to see him. Everybody can relate to that, I think.”

According to police, Torrey was out of state in August when the two suspects — Nathan A. Burke, 37, of Hancock, and Justin T. Chipman, 22, of Steuben — entered his Winter Harbor home without his permission and took Franky, a cross between a Boston terrier and a pug, for a joyride in Torrey’s Hummer.

Burke, who at the time worked as a sternman on Torrey’s lobster boat, and Chipman, who also had worked for Torrey, are accused of shooting the dog and then disposing of its carcass in the nearby harbor, court documents indicate. The dog’s body was discovered a few days later washed up on a nearby beach by the wife of Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster, who lives in Winter Harbor.

Foster has recused himself from involvement in the case because he and his wife are considered witnesses. Norman “Toff” Toffolon, Foster’s deputy district attorney, is prosecuting the case.

Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Nathan A. Burke, 35, of Hancock, left, and Justin T. Chipman, 22, of Steuben and Winter Harbor, right.

Burke and Chipman both told police that Franky ran off during the joyride and they did not see him again, according to court documents. They also are accused of causing a couple thousand dollars worth of damage to Torrey’s vehicle.

Jeffrey Toothaker, Burke’s defense attorney, said the cases against both men were continued Thursday to next March, in order to give the Hancock County district attorney’s office more time to gather evidence in the case. Both men were arrested in September but have since been released on bail.

Prosecutors could not be reached Thursday morning for comment.

 



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