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Talent man pleads guilty in puppy-killing case

By Sanne Specht

For the Tidings

A Talent man pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon in Jackson County Circuit Court to three counts of felony aggravated animal abuse for killing a litter of puppies and having their bodies dumped at an animal shelter. He was sentenced to 40 days in jail and two years' supervised probation.

Robert Allen Fullmer, 54, of the 800 block of Talent Avenue, spoke little and expressed no remorse as he appeared via closed-circuit television before Judge Ray White.

Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Markiewicz said Fullmer killed the five 8-week-old shepherd mix puppies who belonged to a friend who was in jail because he was tired of caring for them and their mother. The bodies of the puppies were discovered wrapped in plastic bags near a Dumpster at the Southern Oregon Humane Society by volunteers on May 10.

The mother was found unharmed at a separate location.

The triple guilty plea was struck before a forensic autopsy could be performed on two of the five pups. But a veterinarian confirmed that at least three had "died in a nonhumane way — probably by suffocation," Markiewicz said.

Fullmer's penalty does not fit his crimes, said Sally Mackler, director of Spay/Neuter Your Pet.

"It's a slap on the wrist," said Mackler. "Studies show that people who do these kinds of things to animals often will go on and do these kinds of things to people."

Prior to the plea agreement, Fullmer was facing five counts of felony first-degree aggravated animal abuse, five counts of first-degree animal abuse and possession of methamphetamine. Fullmer was jailed 35 days ago on $250,000 bail. He will be in jail for five more days, Markiewicz said.

The District Attorney's Office agreed to dismiss two of the felony aggravated animal abuse charges and all of the lesser charges because Fullmer took responsibility for killing at least three of the puppies, Markiewicz said.

Each of Fullmer's guilty pleas earned him 20 days of jail time and two years' supervised probation from the judge. White ordered Fullmer's jail time on two of the three sentences to be served concurrently. Jail time for the third sentence will be served consecutively. Fullmer also must undergo any counseling deemed necessary by his probation officer, avoid all intoxicants, agree to possess no domestic animal for the next 15 years and pay $100 in fines, White said.

Markiewicz said he expects to receive irate phone calls over the sentence. But felony sentencing guidelines by the state Legislature restrict judges from handing down the type of sentence that many in the public might expect, he said.

"My last aggravated animal abuse case only got 10 days, so I'm excited," Markiewicz said.

Mackler said she would be looking into the sentencing guidelines with local legislators.

"I had no idea the sentencing was so limited," said Mackler. "I'm appalled."

Fullmer was arrested after Talent police received a tip from a neighbor who had read news accounts of puppies apparently suffocated and dumped at the Southern Oregon Humane Society. Further investigation revealed that Fullmer had cared for a dog and her puppies for his roommate, who was in jail. Fullmer told investigators he couldn't do the job any more. A friend of Fullmer's, David George Phillips, 59, of Central Point, is alleged to have dumped the puppies at the shelter.

Phillips was cited to appear in Jackson County Circuit Court at 9 a.m. June 22 to face the charge of offensive littering, stemming from leaving the dead puppies at the humane society after hours and without permission. After reviewing the statute, Markiewicz said that Phillips' actions were not in violation because he placed the puppies near a trash bin. It is likely no charges will be filed against Phillips, he said.

Fullmer has multiple felony and misdemeanor convictions for drug charges, driving under the influence and resisting arrest. Police said when Fullmer was booked into the Jackson County Jail, officials found he had a small packet of meth hidden on him.

The judge could order Fullmer to return to jail should he violate conditions of his probation, Markiewicz said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.