According to reports, Joseph Graves, the boyfriend of Broadway actress Ashley Yeater, allegedly beat his girlfriend’s yorkshire terrier with a belt buckle. It is further alleged that Mr. Graves admitted to striking the dog when investigators confronted him. Although the case has not been presented to a New York County (Manhattan) Grand Jury, Mr. Graves was arrested and charged with the “E” felony of Aggravated Animal Cruelty pursuant to Agriculture and Markets Law section 353 (AML 353). If convicted, Mr. Graves faces up to 1 and 1/3 to 4 years in state prison although a mandatory term of incarceration is not required by law.
Not only is Mr. Graves accused of striking and injuring the featherweight animal, but the ASPCA’s Joseph Pentangelo stated that he did not seek medical attention for the six pound dog until two days after the alleged incident.
While Mr. Graves and his attorney will certainly mount a vigorous defense, Manhattan jurors are generally not sympathetic to alleged abuse of an animal, especially tea-cup sized dogs that are not know for their ferocity. Mr. Graves certainly may have a valid and compelling defense and time will tell what strategy he implements.