Three men have been indicted in the Aug. 25 beating death of a raccoon, the killing of which became the cause of an Alexandria woman who accused city officials of failing to enforce animal-protection laws in the case.
After hearing testimony from the woman this week, an Alexandria grand jury indicted Michael Botello, Chester Bowie and Henry Perry on animal-abuse charges stemming from the killing of a mother raccoon known in the Braddock Heights neighborhood as Tillie.
The case is unusual because it was brought before the grand jury by volunteers from the Humane Society of Fairfax County and Eleanore Leach, the Braddock Heights woman who pursued the case, instead of by city prosecutors.
"The case landed in my lap because I am the assistant with the least seniority . . . "assistant city prosecutor Joe McCarthy said yesterday. "But I don't want to make light of it. I'm going to fulfill my duty."
The three men, whose addresses authorities said were not available, are charged with animal cruelty, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. The men have been summoned to answer the charges in Alexandria Circuit Court on March 24.
"I am delighted," said Leach, who said her goal was to "bring Tillie's killers to justice." Leach said she told a seven-member grand jury everything she recalled about the beating and stabbing of the animal.
Leach said the raccoon raised several litters of young in the shaded Alexandria neighborhood along a creek and had made a home in the rafters of the administration building of the First Assembly of God Church at 700 W. Braddock Road. She said she witnessed three men beating the wild animal with shovels and a pitchfork until it died.
When she called local authorities about the incident, she said she was told that there was nothing that could be done.
The Rev. Thomas Gulbronson, pastor of the First Assembly of God Church, identified the three indicted men as members of the church but added that the church was not involved in the incident.
However, he said the raccoon was removed to protect the congregation's children during the current Washington area rabies epidemic.