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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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
"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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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