King Tut, the 6-month-old pit bull whose head was crushed by a nearly 100-pound piece of concrete last month, was a casualty in a spat between two neighborhood men, according to statements the dog’s owner made to authorities.
Police on Wednesday arrested Sean Delontay Branch, 24, of the District in connection with the dog’s June 29 death.
According to the Washington Humane Society, which investigates animal cruelty cases for the District, King Tut was sleeping in the shade behind the Circle 7 Convenience store on Mount Olivet Road NE when the concrete was dropped on his head.
Branch admitted to officers that he tossed the concrete slab that hit the dog, but he told them it was an accident, according to court papers. He said he had been searching for a spot to sit in the shade of the store and was clearing stones from the area when he threw the slab about two feet. When he saw it hit the dog, he told authorities, he walked away because he knew the owner “would be mad and had a temper,” court papers say.
But the dog’s owner, Willie Starkey, said Branch was acting in retaliation when he threw the concrete piece because Branch thought Starkey had robbed him the night before, according to the documents. Starkey denied doing so to police, the documents state.
On the day of the dog’s killing, Starkey was walking King Tut when he was called away by another person and left the brindle-and-white animal next to the convenience store, according to the documents.
The apparent feud continued after the day King Tut was killed. Branch told police that on June 30, Starkey attacked him as he was eating in a nearby park, court papers say. Branch alleged that Starkey smashed a bottle against his head and accused him of killing the dog.
Authorities said in court papers that they charged Branch due to the “implausibility” of his claim that he “unknowingly tossed a 100 lb. piece of cement behind him in an attempt to clear a space to sit in a barren lot and it accidentally landed on the head of the dog whose owner he had just finished accusing of robbing him.”
Branch is charged with one felony count of cruelty to animals. He was released pending a preliminary hearing July 31 and has been ordered to stay away from that area of the neighborhood and from Starkey.
Starkey is facing misdemeanor assault charges and has a hearing July 18.
The Washington Humane Society is collecting donations in memory of King Tut.