Cop to serve time for shooting, stabbing family dog
By Guillermo Contreras
An ex-cop and war vet was sentenced Friday to 18 months in a state jail for animal cruelty — shooting and stabbing the family dog.
Robert Smotherman, 41, claimed the dog, a mastiff-boxer mix named Whiskey, was aggressive and bit him. So in August 2012 he decided to put him down to protect his family, he said.
When the dog — who had been adopted from a pound in New Mexico — did not die with one shot from Smotherman’s .40-caliber gun, he shot the pet again then stabbed him to put him out of his misery, defense attorney Charles Bunk argued Friday.
“It did not go as he had hoped or liked, but it was certainly not anything other than he tried to put this dog down,” Bunk told State District Judge Mary Roman as he asked for probation or deferred adjudication for Smotherman. “The way it happened is something he regrets. It’s not something reflective of him as a husband, a man, a father or as a soldier.”
Bunk said Smotherman served in Afghanistan and Iraq and was honorably discharged and later became a reservist. His court file also said he served as a law enforcement officer for two agencies in Oklahoma, but it does not specify where, and Bunk did not know details.
Smotherman pleaded no contest in September to the cruelty to a non-livestock animal/torture charge.
Prosecutor Christopher Karl asked Friday for an 18-month sentence and countered that “this was not an instance of a mercy killing.”
“This is an instance of rage, an instance of (Smotherman) losing his top,” Karl argued.
Karl said Smotherman hit Whiskey and the dog tried to bite him back, though Smotherman had no apparent injuries when examined.
A neighbor called 911 when she heard shots from Smotherman’s far West Bexar County home, fearing he might shoot toward her home.
When the first deputy arrived, he heard one of the shots and saw Smotherman standing over the dog. The animal had a large gash on his throat and was bleeding profusely, but he wagged his tail when a deputy approached, according to a police report. A bloody 8-inch hunting knife with a “gut hook” was sticking out of the ground, and investigators learned Smotherman stabbed Whiskey with it.
Karl said the dog was friendly, not aggressive, toward deputies and animal control officers, who later euthanized it. One of Smotherman’s sons told deputies his dad was angry at the dog, asking the boy to retrieve his gun, because Whiskey made holes in the yard, the police report said.
“I think everything points to this is a man who is hot-headed,” Karl told the judge.
Roman commended Smotherman for his service, but also chastised him.
“The description of the dog’s injuries were atrocious,” Roman said. “I understand you were trying to put down an animal, and you certainly can do that, but there’s a right way to do it.”
The judge also ordered a $1,500 fine and told Smotherman to pay restitution to Animal Care Services. He broke down in tears when the judge ordered him into custody immediately.