In the past few weeks, we've shared the story of Edward McMorris, who was arrested after witnesses said he publicly tortured a puppy named Tater; see our more recent coverage below.
Now, however, a Boulder judge says the facts of the case don't justify the felony animal cruelty charge prosecutors had aimed at him.
As we've reported, Boulder Police officers were called to an area near the intersection of Broadway and Canyon Boulevard at about 11:48 p.m. on August 29, where they saw McMorris, described as a 26-year-old transient, dragging Tater by a leash.
When cops asked him to give them the dog, he's said to have refused and then reached for what's described as a "large metal object" hanging from his belt -- an action deemed sufficiently provocative that one of the officers tackled him. Witnesses later told police that McMorris repeatedly kicked Tater, even stomping on his head. The dog's cries were so loud that one woman driving past thought she'd run over him.
McMorris's appearance has gone through some serious changes in recent years. Here's a 2009 shot of him from his still-active Facebook page....
...and here's a larger look at his booking photo. After McMorris's arrest, Tater, who was reportedly born at a Rainbow Family gathering, was taken to the Boulder Emergency Animal Clinic, where his injuries were determined not to be life-threatening. As such, he was transferred to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, where a number of McMorris's friends tried to adopt him without success. They all proclaim McMorris's innocence.
Boulder County Judge David Archuleta didn't go quite that far during a court hearing yesterday covered by the Boulder Daily Camera. But neither did he agree that the actions for which McMorris has been accused rise to the felony level, particularly given that Tater suffered no permanent injuries.
The Boulder District Attorney's Office can appeal that decision or re-file against McMorris at the misdemeanor level, knowing that he's still got a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a police officer hanging over his head. In the meantime, McMorris remains in Boulder County Jail on a $3,000 bond. Likewise, Tater is still at the Humane Society; he won't be put up for adoption until the case against McMorris is resolved.
Here's a look at Tater.
Continue for previous coverage. Original post, 6:30 a.m. September 6: Last week, we told you about the arrest of Boulder's Edward McMorris, accused of publicly stomping a puppy named Tater. Seems like a simple story, yet it's gotten more complicated thanks to attempts by McMorris pals to adopt the dog amid claims of his innocence. Meanwhile, the Boulder Police Department has released a Tater photo -- see a full-size version below -- to keep the focus on the alleged victim in the case.
As we reported earlier, officers were dispatched to an area near the intersection of Broadway and Canyon Boulevard at about 11:48 p.m. on August 29. There, they saw McMorris, described as a 26-year-old transient, dragging Tater by a leash.
When cops asked him to give them the dog, he's said to have refused and then reached for what's described as a "large metal object" hanging from his belt -- an action deemed sufficiently provocative that one of the officers tackled him.
The Boulder Police blotter noted that the puppy could barely move, and no wonder. Witnesses told cops that McMorris kicked Tater between five and ten times, as well as stomping his head on several occasions. One woman said Tater's yowling was so extreme that she feared she'd run over the dog with her car.
A short time later, Tater was transported to the Boulder Emergency Pet Clinic, where his injuries were determined not to be life-threatening. But his subsequent transfer to the Human Society of Boulder Valley brought another complication. The Boulder Daily Camera reports that Sarah Workneh, representing a group of McMorris buddies who she says have been jointly raising Tater, went to the Humane Society and tried to adopt the dog.
They were rejected, however, and officials now say that no one can adopt Tater until police complete the investigation in the case and the dog has fully recovered.
Workneh, who told the Camera Tater was born at a Rainbow Family gathering (and added that McMorris would never hurt an animal), has clearly not given up on this quest. On Saturday, she posted a photo of Tater and another dog along with the lines, "Tater is being held by the Humane Society in Boulder, CO. Please help us get him back!!"
Here's the accompanying shot:
And here's the photo of Tater released by the BPD:
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As for McMorris, he appeared in court yesterday, where he was formally charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and obstructing a police officer. He's scheduled for a preliminary hearing on September 27.
Where will Tater be on that date? Too soon to say -- but there's a group of McMorris pals who obviously hope it'll be with them.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Edward McMorris busted for stomping, kicking, dragging four-month-old puppy."