When Martinez Police officer Leong knocked on Mulgrew's door, his wife answered. She said that her husband had been at work all day and was still there. When asked if he owned any guns, she said, No, I don't allow guns in my house.
An hour later, Mulgrew came out and said that he had shot in the direction of the dog but did not mean to hit it. He said that he was willing to pay to replace the dog.
When Officer Leong told Cole's family and neighbors that no arrest would be made, they told him Voices For Pets had been called. Officer Leong said, "I don't want you harassing this man in any way and I don't want you leafleting the neighborhood."
When Contra Costa Times reporter Celeste Ward called to ask why there was no arrest, Martinez Officer Dave Brown said, "We don't feel he is a hazard to the community. He's not shooting at people; he's shooting at animals. It's not violent enough to book him into jail."
After the media coverage and outraged letters and phone calls from the community, Timothy Mulgrew was booked on felony cruelty to an animal.
A jury trial date has been set for January 10, 2000, 8:30 a.m. at Martinez Superior Court.
Please send in all signed petitions by January 10, 2000. This will give us enough time to count them and present them to the judge on sentencing day.
Feb. 23, 2000
On June 21, 1999, Cole Dempster, a one-year-old black Labrador, was short three times in the back while playing and splashing with another dog in the water of a creek that runs between the backyards of a Martinez residential neighborhood.
Cole managed to crawl home to his family before dying. The other dog in the creek with Cole was Timothy Mulgrew's female, Leila. Timothy Mulgrew said his dog was in heat and probably pregnant.
When Martinez Police arrived, Mulgrew's wife said her husband was at work and had been there all day. When asked if they owned any guns, she said, "No, I do not allow guns in the house." One hour later, Mulgrew came out and admitted shooting the dog and said he was willing to pay to replace it.
Office Kim Leong then told Cole's family that no arrest would be made and said, "I don't want you harassing this man in any way and I don't want you leafleting the neighborhood."
When a Contra Costa Times reporter called to ask why there was no arrest, Officer Dave Brown said, "We don't feel he is a hazard to the community. He's not shooting at people, he's shooting at animals. It's not violent enough to book him into jail."
After the media coverage, which included TV Channels 2, 5, and 7, and many outraged letters and phone calls from the community, Timothy Mulgrew was booked on Felony Cruelty to an Animal.
On June 30, 1999, at an arraignment hearing, Leroy Moyer, Director of Voices for Pets, introduced himself to Mulgrew and said that some people were saying that what he did was a sadistic, cowardly act and he asked, "What made you decide to pull the trigger?" Mulgrew's wife spoke up and said, "Every officer that came by said they would have shot the dog themselves."
Voices for Pets does not believe every officer feels that way. However, on October 14, at a preliminary hearing when Officer Leong was being questioned by Mulgrew's lawyer, he was asked, "Did you say to him with respect to the shooting that 'I don't blame you, I might have done the same thing'?" Leong answered, "No, I wouldn't shoot at a dog. I've got dogs of my own." The attorney then asked, "Did you say 'I don't blame you'?" Officer Leong answered, "No. If anything, I would have said something along the lines that, you know, people are entitled to defend their own children and livestock."
In our last update we notified you that a trial date had been set for January 10, but because of more delaying tactics by the defense, it has been rescheduled for February 28th. We have attended well over a dozen court hearings on this case over the past several months, which has included many delays. The good news is that this case is now in Judge Richard Arnason's courtroom. Judge Arnason will be fair to both sides, but he will not allow any b.s. in his courtroom and, since that is all the defense has to offer, we do expect to finally achieve some justice for Cole.
Phone calls, letters, signed petitions, and showing up in court has made a big difference in this case. Usually these cases are plea-bargained, but not this time. The trial is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. on February 28, in Department 28 (2nd floor at the end of the hall), 1020 Ward Street Courthouse, Martinez. The trial is scheduled to continue through the day on February 28 and possibly into the next day, and you can arrive at any time. Please send in all signed petitions now.
On Friday, March 24, Judge Richard Arnason heard closing arguments in the case of Timothy Mulgrew, who is charged with Felony Cruelty to an Animal for shooting to death Cole, his neighbor's one-year-old black Labrador.
The defense claimed that shooting Cole was justified as Mr. Mulgrew was protecting his property against a "vicious dog." Deputy D.A. Stacey Grassini did a good job countering the defense's claims.
However, as Judge Arnason had another trial to attend, he postponed judgment in this case until April 28th. We will issue an e-mail update when more complete details about that court date are available. If the verdict is guilty, sentencing will take place in 1-2 weeks.
Mulgrew Guilty--Sentencing June 2nd
On April 21, Judge Richard Arnason convicted 36-year-old Timothy Mulgrew of killing his neighbor's 1-year-old black Lab. The judge said Mulgrew was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Mulgrew will be sentenced on June 2, just 19 days short of the anniversary of Cole's death.
So much has happened in the last 11 months. Over a dozen court dates, with the defense lawyer trying to try the case in the media and blaming the victim, and delaying tactics by the defense, hoping this would become an old story and forgotten. Many of you responded by writing letters to the editor. You wrote letters to Contra Costa County District Attorney Gary Yancey asking that his office try this case as a violent crime against a defenseless victim. You came to court and you gathered over 17,000 signatures on a petition asking that on sentencing day the judge consider the degree of violence and the danger afflicted upon the children of the neighborhood. And you sent donations that paid for the printing and mailing of petitions, court records, and the autopsy of Cole's body that proved that Cole was shot three times in the back after Mulgrew told police that the dog was facing him and growling.
The defense lawyer got so frustrated that after one court hearing he physically attacked me outside the courthouse for taking his client's picture (see bottom of update). All of this and so much more has happened that I thought I could not do better than to reissue the initial report of Cole's death from Voices For Pets in June 1999, with the latest details at the end.
Cole's short life started in January 1998 at the Martinez, CA county shelter. At the age of 8 weeks, Cole did not yet have a name. He was confined to a cage with fear and death all around him.
Eight-year-old Teddy Dempster was struggling with terminal cancer and wanted a dog of his own. He went to the shelter and out of all the dogs to choose from there was no doubt it had to be the coal-black Labrador puppy with a tuft of white hair on his chest. Seven months later, Teddy died. Teddy's mother, Patty, has told me many stories of their time together; of how much happiness and comfort Cole gave to Teddy and the rest of the family; Teddy's father, Bob, and brothers Robbie and Dylan. Patty told me of Teddy's last days when Cole would lay his head on Teddy and Teddy would open his eyes and smile. Patty said she really had four sons, Robbie, Dylan, Teddy and Cole. Ten months after Teddy died, Cole's life ended.
On June 21, 1999 Voices For Pets received a call and was told a dog had been shot and there was an eyewitness and that the police had been called. When I arrived at the scene, I saw many neighbors in the street with Cole's family. I took two pictures as Officer Leong ducked behind a tree branch and turned his head away before gruffly saying, "nobody takes my picture without my permission." Officer Leong then got into his car and drove away.
The victim's family and neighbors were angry. They said Officer Leong told them that the suspect had admitted firing in the direction of the dog to scare it off, but did not mean to hit it and that no arrest would be made. They said when they told the officer that Voices For Pets had been called and that an animal advocate was on his way, Officer Leong said "I don't want you harassing this man in any way and I don't want you leafleting the neighborhood."
I then walked the neighborhood talking to many people. I took pictures of the suspect's house and finally the place where Cole was shot, which is a children's play area complete with rope swing. I talked with an eyewitness who told me he had seen Cole and another dog playing and splashing in the creek. He said that approximately one minute later he heard three or four shots, and a dog yelping. He looked up and saw Timothy Mulgrew at the top of the creek bank pointing a rifle down toward the dogs. He said he then yelled, "Don't shoot the dogs" and Mulgrew lowered the rifle to his side, bent over and walked to his back door.
I then called the media, and Kevin Keyser of KTVU channel 2 responded, as well as Contra Costa Times reporter, Celeste Ward. When Keyser called Martinez police to ask why there was no arrest, he was told "it was only a pellet gun." When Times reporter Ward called with the same question, Officer Dave Brown said, "We don't feel he is a hazard to the community. He's not shooting at people; he's shooting at animals. It's not violent enough to book him into jail."
The next day I called Disney Pet Hospital in Concord and made arrangements to have Cole's body autopsied. Forty hours after Cole was shot, Patty and I picked up Cole's body at the same shelter where Teddy and Cole had first met. The autopsy report shows clearly that Cole was shot three times in the back with a .22. The entry and exit wounds show that Cole was facing away from his killer.
Two days after the media coverage and outraged phone calls from the community, Timothy Mulgrew was booked on felony cruelty to an animal and released on $15,000 bail.
At sentencing on June 2nd, 2000, the defense will ask the judge to use his discretion and lower the felony conviction to a misdemeanor. The victim's family will be allowed to speak. Voices For Pets will present to the judge over 17,000 petition signatures and make a statement on behalf of the victim and the community. Then the judge will make his judgment known and pass sentence.
Please come to court on June 2nd at 8:30 a.m., Martinez Court, 1020 Ward Street, Department #28 (2nd floor at the end of the hall).
Leroy Moyer, Director - Voices For Pets - P.O. Box 30836 - Walnut Creek, CA 94598 - 925-685-5388
June 6, 2000
Mulgrew Guilty--Sentencing Rescheduled for Friday, June 9th at 8:30 a.m. in Martinez
Sentencing in the Cole case was delayed for an additional week, and is now scheduled for June 9th. The Probation Department failed to get a copy of the probation report to the defense attorney the required four days before sentencing. The defense requested a one-week continuance, and it was granted.
Cole's family will be making a victim's impact statement, and of course Voices For Pets will be presenting the judge with over 17,000 signatures and making a statement as well.
Cole's family has also filed a civil suit against Timothy Mulgrew.
Sentencing in the Cole case will take place on Friday, June 9th, at 8:30 a.m. Please come to the Martinez Court, 1020 Ward Street, Department #28 (2nd floor at the end of the hall). Our presence does make a difference.
Leroy Moyer, Director
Voices For Pets
June 11, 2000
In Sentencing, Judge Lowers Felony Conviction to a Misdemeanor,
Orders Two Years of Probation
Cole's killer, Timothy Mulgrew, received a sentence of 90 days of electronic detention or 90 days of participation in the Sheriff's Work Alternative Program. He also is to perform 200 hours of community service. He received two years of probation, during which time he is not to own guns, and a $100 fine. After two years, Mulgrew can apply to have the conviction wiped from his record, after which he would be free to once again own guns
The judge also ordered Mulgrew to pay Cole's family the amount equal to the "value" of Cole, amount to be decided by the Probation Department. The judge also said that if the two sides could not agree on the value, a judge will do so.
After the April 21 conviction of Mulgrew, Cole's family filed suit against him in civil court. Basically, if they prevail in civil court, the "value" of Cole will not simply be the price of a shelter dog.
Even though the results are disappointing, they are more than we have gotten in the past. For example, the District Attorney's office pursued this case for a year, without offering to lower the felony charge to a misdemeanor in exchange for a guilty plea in a plea bargain. Hopefully, in that respect, this case will be a turning point in the District Attorney's handling of cases involving violence against animals. There will be many more details of the sentencing in the upcoming Voices For Pets Update.
Even though this is not the sentence we would have liked, the results are thanks to the people who gathered signatures, wrote letters, and came to court.
Leroy Moyer, Director
Voices For Pets
Latest Update March 8, 2001
Civil Suit Settled
In Martinez on June 21, 1999, Cole, a one-year-old black Lab was shot three times in the back by Timothy Mulgrew . Cole, mortally wounded, limped home to his family and died. The Dempster family, Patty, Bob, and three sons, Robbie, Dylan, and Teddy, had adopted Cole at the age of 8 weeks from the Martinez County Shelter.
Cole was loved by the whole family and gave as much love as he got. Cole was the constant companion of eight-year-old Teddy, who was struggling with terminal cancer. Teddy died 10 months before Cole was shot.
When police knocked on Mulgrew's door to ask about the shooting, his wife, Colleen Mulgrew, opened the door. The officer asked if her husband was home. She said he was still at work. The officer asked if he had come home and then returned to work? She said no, he had been at work all day and was still there.
The officer asked if they owned any guns? She said "No, I do not allow guns in my house." One hour later, Timothy Mulgrew came out and admitted firing in the direction of the dog to scare it off, but said he did not mean to hit it. He said he was willing to pay to replace the dog. Mulgrew was not arrested.
A Contra Costa Times reporter called Martinez Police to ask why there was no arrest and was told, "We don't feel he is a hazard to the community. He's not shooting at people; he's shooting at animals. It's not violent enough to book him into jail."
When a non-human is the victim of a violent crime, there is no yellow tape around the crime scene, no thought of wasting money on lab work.
The next day, Voices For Pets made arrangements to have Cole's body autopsied. The autopsy report showed clearly that Cole was shot three times in the back with a 22. The entry and exit wounds showed that Cole was facing away from his killer.
One year later, Mulgrew was found guilty and as part of his sentence was ordered to pay Cole's family, the Dempsters, the "value" of Cole. However, one day after Mulgrew's conviction in the criminal case, and before sentencing, Cole's family filed suit against Mulgrew in civil court. Their attorney, Gilbert Purcell of Novato, a longtime member and supporter of Voices For Pets, had served the papers on Mulgrew. Mr. Mulgrew would have to pay more than simply the "value" of a shelter dog.
Mr. Mulgrew counter-sued, claiming the Dempster family had caused him to suffer mental anguish, extreme anxiety, and severe emotional distress.
Mr. Mulgrew's counter-suit against Cole's family was obviously frivolous. Its purpose was to cause the Dempsters to have to pay a lawyer to defend themselves. Mr. Mulgrew did not understand that the Dempsters' attorney was not in it for the money and would pursue Mulgrew and defend the Dempsters without any cost to them, while Mulgrew continued to pay his own attorney for both suits.
In December 2000, Voices For Pets received word that a settlement was in the works. We were told only that as part of the settlement Mulgrew would donate a significant sum of money to Voices For Pets, in acknowledgment of the incident and in memory of Teddy Dempster and his dog Cole, which could be used to further the rights of animals in the future. We were not told any other terms of the settlement or the amount of money that would be donated to Voices For Pets. However, the parties included a confidentiality provision within the agreement such that neither party is to publicly disclose Mr. Mulgrew's name, the settlement amount, nor the fact that the donation is being made in settlement of the lawsuit.
Even though Voices For Pets was not a party to the lawsuit nor a part of the settlement negotiations, we were asked if we would agree to the confidentiality provision. Voices For Pets had difficulty agreeing to this. We felt that if we were to agree to it, we would be somehow "selling" our voice by agreeing to be silent in the future about the murder of Cole.
Also, Mulgrew's behavior throughout a year of court appearances was disturbing--he always had a smug look on his face--and this made it difficult for us to even consider accepting money in exchange for silence.
Whatever the "significant sum of money" turned out to be--which certainly could have been used to help other animals--it would have felt like Voices For Pets was selling its soul. This was just not acceptable, and we turned down the offer.
On January 19, a month later, Timothy Mulgrew's wife, Colleen Mulgrew, sent us a check from Timothy Mulgrew's business in the amount of $2000, with no conditions attached. Colleen Mulgrew's one-sentence statement attached to the check read "Please find enclosed a check for two thousand dollars that Timothy Mulgrew is making in memory of Teddy Dempster."
This money will be used in future cases, for lab work, veterinary bills, and every other way to help non-human victims of violence.
Leroy Moyer, Director - Voices For Pets - P.O. Box 30836 - Walnut Creek, CA 94598 - 925-685-5388
Sentencing in this case occurred on June 11, 2000. The judge lowered the felony conviction to a misdemeanor. Cole's killer, Timothy Mulgrew (photo at right), received a sentence of 90 days of electronic detention or 90 days of participation in the Sheriff's work Alternative Program, was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, received two years of probation, during which time he is not to own guns, and a $100 fine. After two years, Mulgrew can apply to have the conviction wiped from his record, after which he would be free to again own guns. He was also ordered to pay Cole's family an amount equal to the "value" of Cole.
Cole, a one-year-old black Labrador, was shot three times in the back. A witness said he had seen Cole and another dog playing and splashing in the water of a creek that runs between the backyards of the Martinez residential neighborhood. He said that approximately one minute later he heard three or four shots, looked up, and saw Timothy Mulgrew at the top of the creek bank pointing a rifle down towards the dogs.
Cole, with three gunshot wounds, managed to crawl home to his family before dying. The place where Cole was shot is a children's play area, complete with rope swing. The other dog in the creek with Cole was Mulgrew's female, Leila. Mulgrew said his dog was in heat and probably pregnant.