Pit bull owner sentenced for death of ELCO woman

Jacqueline McCuen, 33, was sentenced in Elbert County District Court to six years in prison for her role as owner of the pit bulls that killed Jennifer Brooke, then 40.

By By: Rhonda Moore
Posted 12/23/04

Jacqueline McCuen, 33, was sentenced in Elbert County District Court to six years in prison for her role as owner of the pit bulls that killed …

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Pit bull owner sentenced for death of ELCO woman

Jacqueline McCuen, 33, was sentenced in Elbert County District Court to six years in prison for her role as owner of the pit bulls that killed Jennifer Brooke, then 40.

Posted

Jacqueline McCuen, 33, was sentenced in Elbert County District Court to six years in prison for her role as owner of the pit bulls that killed Jennifer Brooke, then 40.

The sentence was handed down Dec. 15 in a temporary courtroom at the Elbert County fairgrounds after several hours of emotional testimony. The hearing marked the first time prosecutors shared 911 tapes from that day.

Three of McCuen's five pit bulls attacked Brooke at her home when she went out to feed her horses early the morning of Nov. 30, 2003. Brooke's husband, Bjorn Osmundsen, confronted the dogs when he went to look for her after she did not return. His subsequent calls to 911 depict a controlled but worried husband, concerned for the welfare of his wife after the animals charged him.

"I'm bleeding severely," he says on the 911 tape. "I've been attacked and I can't find my wife. One dog has blood all over his face. My wife is a lot smaller than me. I'm really worried about this. I've got huge bite marks on my arm."

Background noise in the tape includes the frenzied barking and growling sound of dogs as they chase Osmundsen into the cab of a truck. His next call to 911 was made after he found his wife on the ground in a horse arena.

"I found my wife," he says. "She's been bitten horribly by the dogs. I can't pick her up, she's too heavy. I don't need a deputy, you need to get an ambulance."

The dogs continued on their rampage to the home of Carol Weland, where they attacked Weland's son, Clifford Lynne Baker, 42. Baker's 16-year-old son Cody was able to fire on the dogs with the family's shotgun. The dogs were ultimately put down by a sheriff's deputy and Elizabeth police officer when they arrived on scene.

Brooke's family urged the court to impose the stiffest possible sentence. Her mother, Jackie Brooke, shared an emotional plea.

"Jennifer died a horrendous death," Brooke said. "She was such a good soul. She didn't have a chance when she went out … that day. People are so concerned with terrorism but we have it right here. When you have animals you have choices and choices have consequences. I ask to you find the maximum sentence without parole."

Residents of the McCuen neighborhood told prosecutors that the dogs ran loose in the area for months before Brooke's death. McCuen's dogs were also involved in an April 2003 attack on Diana Nichols as she took her daily walk past the McCuen home. The animals' history and McCuen's failure to contain them were key points cited by district court judge Angela Arkin when she handed down the highest sentence.

"It is clear that neighbors were terrorized by these dogs over several months," Arkin said. "Not only did McCuen know about it but she was directly involved and aware of many incidents. Everyone has an obligation to protect the community from dangerous animals that they choose to keep. McCuen made decisions and those decisions resulted in the death of one person and the terror of three others."

McCuen's sentence came after she reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. She was additionally sentenced to three years in county jail for charges related to the attacks on Osmundsen, Baker and Nichols. McCuen will serve her time concurrently with her prison sentence, followed by two years of parole.

McCuen received a stay of execution to spend Christmas with her family, and will report to the Elbert County jail to begin serving her sentence at 8 a.m., Dec. 26.

Contact Rhonda Moore at rmoore@ccnewspapers.net.

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