A two-day trial on Jeremiah Aguilar’s appeal of his municipal court conviction for ownership of a dangerous dog has been slated to start May 16.
Aguilar appeared by phone in Montrose County Court Friday morning, with his attorney Amy Ondos and acting prosecutor Wyatt Angelo there in person.
Aguilar, a veteran, was charged under city code after his mastiff-breed dog, Dutch, repeatedly bit a former owner last Nov. 14.
Aguilar strongly disputes that his dog is vicious, but was convicted in municipal court in January and sentenced on Feb. 14 to 20 days in jail, with 18 suspended, plus fines. He was ordered to surrender his pet. Aguilar was also told to refrain from posting things online about the woman who was bitten, because of the vitriol others were directing toward her in cyber space.
Aguilar’s case generated worldwide controversy after initial Internet reports that Dutch was a service dog that was being put down for biting a woman who allegedly beat him without provocation.
That isn’t true, it was said in court and by animal control officials. The woman was attacked after breaking up a fight between Dutch and her dog. The woman had to hit Dutch with a lightweight metal pole from a tiki torch in order to separate the dogs, it was said.
Per officials and prior testimony: Dutch bit her after she had taken him inside her home to clean blood from his face. The first bite was to her upper leg and it sunk to the bone. She had to pry herself free and as she tried to get away from Dutch, she fell. The dog jumped on top of her and bit her again, again sinking his teeth to her bone. She was bitten once more while prying his jaws loose; the bite caused a compound fracture to her finger and damaged tendons. Dutch continued to try to get at her after she escaped into her bedroom.
Aguilar maintains that his dog was provoked. Dutch completed training as a service dog after the attack, Aguilar has said.
In February, Municipal Judge Richard Brown upheld an order for euthanasia, though that is stayed pending Aguilar’s appeal. Brown later agreed to an offer by a California animal refuge to take Dutch, but Aguilar did not respond to the offer by its deadline, according to court records.
Officials said Aguilar has not surrendered Dutch, however. He could be held in contempt. A municipal court hearing is slated for April 18 on that matter.
At the county level, Aguilar is appealing his conviction on ownership of a dangerous animal. The appeal means he is being tried anew on the offense.
The trial is being set within the 90-day rule for speedy trial. “We’re willing to be flexible, but we don’t want to set it too far out,” Ondos told visiting Judge Julie Huffman.
Because Aguilar is appealing a municipal case, he will be tried by three jurors. An alternate juror will also be seated.
Pre-trial motions are to be filed by April 23; responses to the motions are due May 3 and a pre-trial conference is set for 1 p.m. May 10.
Angelo advised the court that counsel for the city could change, as the city has recently hired a new attorney. Angelo said he “fervently hoped” the state would process Steve Alcorn’s admission to the bar before the trial date.