Though one man was convicted this week for shooting and killing a dog owned by a Winter Harbor fisherman, the other man charged in the crime is nowhere to be found.
Nathan Burke, 38, of Hancock has not been seen since August, when he was charged with violating his bail by being in possession of alcohol and a loaded gun. As of Friday, two warrants for his arrest had been issued in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court for failure to appear.
Burke and Justin Chipman, 24, of Steuben each were charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, aggravated criminal mischief, burglary and two counts of theft in connection with an August 2018 incident in which Franky, a pug owned by Winter Harbor fisherman Phil Torrey, was fatally shot. The two men were accused of entering Torrey’s home without permission when he was out of state and taking Franky for a ride in Torrey’s Hummer before fatally shooting the dog.
Franky’s body was found a few days later, wrapped in plastic and washed up on a beach in Winter Harbor, by the wife of Hancock County District attorney Matthew Foster. Foster, who reported the dead dog to local police, has recused himself from prosecuting the case.
After being granted separate bench trials, Chipman was tried this past week and found guilty. The judge in Chipman’s case, Justice Robert Murray, convicted Chipman on all the charges except aggravated criminal mischief, instead convicting him on a lesser charge of criminal mischief. Chipman’s sentencing on the conviction is expected to be scheduled for January.
Burke’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker of Ellsworth, declined Friday to comment on the case or on where his client might be.
Burke spent 70 days in Hancock County Jail earlier this year after being arrested in February on charges that he assaulted his girlfriend in Ellsworth. He was sentenced to time served for that incident and then released in May after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and violating conditions of release, but the bail conditions stemming from the charges related to Franky’s death remained in effect.
At the time of his release Burke told court officials he would live with his sister in Bangor while the charges related to Franky’s death were still pending.
On Aug. 25, police again charged Burke with violating his bail after responding to a complaint of a possible domestic assault at the campground at Lamoine State Park. Police determined there had been no physical altercation, but found Burke in possession of Corona and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and a loaded firearm, according to court documents.
Police gave a written summons to Burke for violating his bail. He missed scheduled court dates on Aug. 30 and again on Oct. 9, and each time the court issued arrest warrants for Burke for failing to appear in court.