WOODSTOCK – Family members of 28-year-old Timarion White shed tears in the courtroom Thursday when White was acquitted of animal abuse charges stemming from the Jan. 1, 2016, death of his miniature pinscher, Mia.
The more than three-hour bench trial came to a conclusion about 5 p.m. After a 15-minute deliberation, McHenry County Judge James Cowlin ruled White was not guilty of killing his dog by hitting her over the head with a broom.
White originally was charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals and cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor charge. White was facing a one- to three-year prison sentence if he was convicted of the felony offense.
In fact, White was prepared to serve two years in prison as part of a negotiated plea, until Judge Sharon Prather recused herself from the case in April, White said.
“I felt like nobody wanted to hear my side of the story,” he said after the trial.
White got to tell that story Thursday when he agreed to testify.
About 10 a.m. Jan. 1, 2016, White and his wife, Brianna White, were catching up on housekeeping while their two children slept upstairs, he said. The family lived in a home in the 11600 block of Becky Lee Trace, Huntley, at the time.
One of the family’s dogs, Mia – a “dainty” 5-pound, brown and white miniature pinscher – came downstairs from her crate and into the kitchen, where Timarion White was filling up a mop bucket in the sink.
Timarion White suspected Mia needed to go outside, but the dog wouldn’t go and risk getting snow on her paws.
In an attempt to try to get her out from under the table, where she had taken refuge, Timarion White took a broom and started “shimmying the chairs around to scare her.”
What happened after that is where defense attorney Clay Mitchell’s and McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Victor Escarcida’s arguments varied.
“It is unreasonable to think that the simple act of trying to coax or poke this dog would result in this kind of an injury,” Escarcida said. “He killed this dog.”
While Escarcida said White intentionally struck the dog with the broom, causing her to fly through the air and hit the kitchen table, Mitchell argued that the dog merely dodged White’s attempts of capturing her, and hit her head on the edge of a metal table leg.
But without physical evidence that White intended to hurt the family pet that day, there wasn’t enough to convict him, Cowlin said.
“The idea that the dog flew through the air after being hit on the head doesn’t make much sense to the court,” he said.
White’s wife, grandmother and other family members broke into tears of relief when they heard the verdict.
With twins on the way, the Whites are hoping to move on from the felony charge they said has kept Timarion White out of work for the past two years.
Although he never was convicted, criminal background checks reported White as a “pending felon,” he said.
“I’m feeling really good that I stuck with it,” White said.