Probation request denied

ELLSWORTH — A judge in Hancock County Superior Court last Thursday denied a request to terminate probation early for a Gouldsboro man involved in the case involving the 2018 shooting death of Franky, a Boston terrier-pug.

Franky, the pet of a Winter Harbor lobsterman, had been shot in the head, wrapped in trash bags and dumped in the sea, only to wash up on the shore of Hancock County District Attorney Matt Foster’s residence in Hancock in 2018.

Nathan Burke of Gouldsboro had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of aggravated cruelty to animals in 2021. He was sentenced to nine months in jail and one year of probation in addition to a fine.

“He’s completed all assignments,” defense attorney Jeffrey Toothaker said. “He’s paid all his fees. There’s nothing more to accomplish by probation continuing — nothing.”

Toothaker added that Burke’s probation officer suggested he should request that probation be terminated. About six months remain.

District Attorney Foster disagreed.

“This little family dog was tortured, shot and killed and dumped over the Sullivan bridge,” Foster said.

Foster recalled the day the body of the dog washed up on his beach, where his wife found it. “I had to gather the dog up and take it to the Winter Harbor Police Department,” he said. “It was a really traumatic experience.”

“I don’t think the reasons cited in his motion warrant termination,” Foster said.

Toothaker told the judge that his client was a lesser actor in the case.

“Mr. Burke came to my office and explained that his friend shot the dog,” Toothaker said. “He didn’t shoot the dog. What drives these decisions is, is it necessary for this probation to continue? Why are we wasting resources monitoring him?”

Justice Robert Murray said it appears Burke has done well with probation, “but that alone does not dictate that it should end.”

“The court takes the position that there usually needs to be a demonstration of some reason why probation is creating some sort of obstacle to one who has been successful,” Murray said. “In this case, your letter outlines the fact that you’ve done well. But it’s nothing that demonstrates that now, this ongoing obligation of probation is affecting or impeding your ability to perform functions successfully.”

Burke’s co-defendant, Nathan Chipman, 25, was sentenced to serve a year in prison after being convicted of aggravated animal cruelty after a 2019 bench trial.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

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