“A jury Wednesday acquitted a former police officer accused of poisoning his neighbor’s dogs.

Russell Ryan Richter, 32, was fired from the Port Lavaca Police Department after he was indicted in Victoria County on the state jail felony charge.

Richter lives in Victoria County and was charged with mixing gopher bait with ground meat and placing it at the line separating his property from that of Natividad Hernandez’s on July 8, 2014.

The jury deliberated less than two hours, according to court records.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Dillard prosecuted the case while Richter was represented by Alex Hernandez Jr.

Dillard could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but Hernandez said during the trial, witnesses testified the incident happened on Richter’s land, not on his neighbor’s.

On July 6, 2014, two days before his neighbor’s, two pit bulls were killed, they tried to attack Richter’s then-4-year-old son and Great Dane.

“The Great Dane took the brunt of the attack and the child was not harmed,” Hernandez said.

He added, “They are allowed to protect themselves.”

A necropsy was performed on the pit bulls that found they had no ground meat in their stomachs. A subsequent toxicology report did find they had been poisoned, though.

“That’s probably why they were on Richter’s property. They wanted to eat something and were getting in their trash,” Hernandez said.

Additionally, there was testimony that the dogs never received their rabies shots, which violates a local ordinance, he said.

Because Richter wasn’t convicted of the state jail felony, he gets to keep his peace officer’s license.

“He’s not working in law enforcement right now, but he’d like to keep that option,” Hernandez said. “We have too many strays out there, too many stray dogs just walking around, and there doesn’t need to be that many.”

https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2017/feb/15/jury-finds-man-not-guilty-of-animal-cruelty/