Section: News

Bio professor pleads no contest to canine charges

by Maya Kaufman

Professor of Biology Kathryn Edwards pled no contest in the wake of a jury trial scheduled for April 9 for three criminal charges of failing to confine each of her three boxer dogs. Edwards originally pled not guilty in February.

The charges stemmed from an incident on March 15, 2014 in which Edwards’s three dogs bit an 11-year-old boy in his yard in Mount Vernon. The child, identified as “T.M.” in appeals court records, received 24 stitches and sustained multiple injuries. Last year, the Knox County dog warden brought a civil case against Edwards, designating her dogs as “vicious.” A Mount Vernon Municipal Court hearing on June 11, 2014 affirmed the dog warden’s designations. Edwards, who breeds boxers, filed appeals for two of the dogs. On April 1, the Fifth District Knox County Court of Appeals rejected both appeals, upholding the designations.

According to appeals court records, T.M. was playing in his yard when the three dogs “charged” him and “bit him and dragged him.” Teena Lang, the child’s great-aunt and legal guardian, told the court that she heard a “blood-curdling scream” and observed the dogs attacking T.M. Lang got the dogs to leave and called 911. Lang could not be reached for comment.

On the day of the incident, Edwards was in Berlin, Germany and Theresa Gable, a friend, was in charge of her dogs, according to Edwards and her lawyer, Douglas A. Funkhouser.

“This woman has a heart of gold when it comes to her animals,” Gable said. “[Her dogs] mind their manners. … I don’t see how [the court] can think these dogs are vicious and dangerous.”

Gable served as a witness in Edwards’s civil case last year and will testify at her sentencing next month.

Edwards told the Collegian that she is not allowed to comment because the matter is a civil case. In an interview, Funkhouser said that he instructed her not to comment. “Anything she says could be used against her by a judge or jury, so she’s going to maintain her silence,” he said.

Funkhouser said that T.M.’s family may bring a personal injury case against Edwards. He explained that Edwards likely pled no contest so that the plea cannot be used against her in a potential civil case brought against her by the child’s family.

“Kathryn’s been a very happy resident of Knox County, and [this incident is] something that she wants to put behind her,” Funkhouser said.

Edwards is scheduled for sentencing for her criminal charges on May 8 at 10:30 a.m at the Mount Vernon Municipal Court. Edwards could face up to 30 days in jail for each charge as well as potential fines, according to Funkhouser. Funkhouser plans to recommend that Edwards be sentenced to a two-year probation and expects this is what she will receive.

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