January 08, 2020
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Steuben man sentenced to a year behind bars in dog-killing case

Composite image | BDN
Composite image | BDN
Justin Chipman, left, and Franky the Pug.

A Steuben man found guilty in the shooting death of another man’s dog was sentenced on Wednesday to serve a year behind bars.

Justin Chipman, 24, received an overall sentence of three years in prison with all but one year suspended. He also was ordered to serve one year of probation upon his release and to pay $100 in restitution.

Chipman, one of two men accused of killing a pug dog named Franky in August 2018, was found guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals at a bench trial in November. Justice Robert Murray also found Chipman guilty of one count of burglary, two counts of theft and one count of criminal mischief.

The other man — Nathan Burke, 38, of Hancock — has yet to be tried and, like Chipman, also has requested a trial in which a judge, rather than a jury, would decide whether he’s guilty. Burke remains in Hancock County Jail after he violated his bail more than once and missed two court dates before he was arrested again last weekend on a warrant.

A trial date for Burke has not been set.

Police say Chipman and Burke took Franky from Phil Torrey’s house while Torrey was out of state on Aug. 24, 2018 and went for a ride with the dog in Torrey’s Hummer, during which they shot the dog. The two men told police that the dog ran off during the joyride and they never saw it again.

Both men had worked as sternmen on Phil Torrey’s lobster boat and had visited Torrey’s house in Winter Harbor many times before Franky vanished. The dog’s body was found about a week later on a Winter Harbor beach with a bullet hole in his throat.

On Monday, Maria L. Lockhart, 26, of Winter Harbor pleaded guilty in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court in Ellsworth to a felony charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution for helping Chipman and Burke avoid police after they became suspects in the dog’s death.

According to the Hancock County District Attorney’s office, Lockhart drove the men to Bangor and helped them rent a hotel room. The duo later turned themselves in at the Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth a few days after the dog’s body was found.

Franky’s death inspired a change in state law that allows victims in animal cruelty cases to have courtroom advocates who monitor court proceedings; review records on animals’ condition from animal control officers, veterinarians and law enforcement officers; and make recommendations to judges.

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