Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dog-poisoning case was not fair reporting

    In the June 4 edition of the Idaho Mountain Express, an article appeared titled “Man accused of poisoning animals, Suspect faces felony charge from 2013 incident.”
    The reporter neglected to find out or seek comment from the other side that the charge of poisoning an animal could also be treated as a misdemeanor at the discretion of the judge.
    Because of the articles that have appeared in this newspaper, my client has been shunned by friends and members of the community. He was judged guilty before he had a chance to say anything or have his day in court. Mr. Wilson did not purposely poison the dogs and because of that, the prosecutor has agreed to amend to a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace. With this matter being concluded, I hope that Mr. Wilson can stand tall and look the members of this community in the eye and all of us can believe that he did not intentionally poison or harm animals.
    I was troubled by the fact that the Hailey police officer involved in this matter disclosed information that was not of public record nor contained in a probable-cause affidavit. Because of this disclosure by the police officer, I am now permitted to respond according to the Idaho Rules of Professional Responsibility. The article refers to lab tests that were conducted at a laboratory and according to the police officer, there was a “moderate amount” of generic Tylenol but no levels have been provided nor any conclusions that the Tylenol constitutes a poison in this case. The meat that the dogs ate was given to Mr. Wilson by a friend who works at a restaurant who brought him scraps (doggy bags) to feed his own dogs. Mr. Wilson did not believe there was anything wrong with the meat nor did he add Tylenol or other poisonous substances to the meat. The police officer also neglected to disclose to the reporter that one of the owners of the dogs that was affected knows the accused and commented that Mr. Wilson has dogs of his own and loves and cares for them.
    Basic standards of professional journalism guide the reporter to investigate both sides of the story, ascertain all of the facts and if comments are obtained from one side, the other should have the opportunity to respond if they choose.
Brian Elkins
Attorney for Kevin Wilson

    Editor’s note: The Idaho Mountain Express reports criminal cases on the basis of the court record. It reports charges filed, charges as amended and statements made by defendants and witnesses under oath in court. It does not conduct interviews to try the case in print.

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