Dog-shooting suspect faces new charges
An Eagle Point man facing trial on felony aggravated animal abuse charges was arraigned Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court on drunk-driving charges.
Joseph Gima had a scheduled pretrial hearing on Tuesday afternoon related to allegations he shot a woman's dog in the head and neck with a BB-gun pistol. But the 46-year-old man instead ended up pleading not guilty before Judge Timothy Barnack to two misdemeanor charges of driving while under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and a violation for refusing to take a toxicology test.
The alleged driving incident occurred Sunday, March 6. Barnack set Gima's bail at $15,000 and scheduled a pretrial hearing for March 21. Gima appears to have been released from jail after posting bail.
Renee D. Parent-Lewis, 54, of Eagle Point, who owns Etta, the dog Gima allegedly shot — and several of Etta's supporters, who had filed into court Tuesday — were surprised to find themselves attending a second arraignment hearing for Gima in as many months. They thought they were attending the next step in the state's animal-abuse case against Gima.
Gima pleaded not guilty before Judge Lorenzo Mejia on Feb. 7 to one charge each of aggravated animal abuse, first-degree animal abuse and second-degree criminal mischief. Barnack rescheduled the pretrial hearing for those charges to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 14. The state alleges that on Jan. 18, Gima shot Etta, a 5-year-old yellow Labrador mix, at least twice — once through her right eye and again in the neck — in the parking lot of the Walmart store in Eagle Point.
Police said Gima admitted he shot the dog. Gima claimed Etta bit him as he reached into the truck bed to try and pet her.
Gima, who said nothing during Monday's arraignment, left the courthouse trailed by reporters after his attorney, Vance Waliser, entered the not-guilty pleas on his behalf.
Parent-Lewis said videotapes show Gima watched Etta for three minutes before he went into the store, bought a gun and shot her dog.
Gima initially denied shooting the lab. But the following day, when police reviewed surveillance tapes and located the packaging from the CO2-powered BB gun Gima had purchased from Walmart in a trash can near his home, Gima admitted he had shot the dog, police said.
Police said Gima told them he wasn't "proud" of what he'd done, but that a "vicious" dog like Etta should not have been left unattended in a public space.
Gima was arrested and lodged in the Jackson County Jail Jan. 19 on $10,000 bail. He was released the following day after posting partial bail.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.