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Suspect in dog beating case out of jail under new bond / November 04, 2013

The suspect in the brutal beating of a pet dog was back in court Friday for a bond hearing to determine whether he should be released from jail.

The outcome: Michael Ryan Waddle, the leading suspect in a Fenton Street break-in and fatal animal attack, has been placed under house arrest at the Dan River Church Road home of his parents. General District Judge Bill Watson, who presided at the hearing, further ordered a $75,000 bond.

Waddle, 34, was arrested last week following a break-in at the 1601 Fenton Street home of Kimberly Paula Hunt, whom he had been dating until they couple, at Hunt’s instigation, broke up on the day of the attack. Entry into the home took place in the basement; there, Hunt had kept Noodles, the family’s pet hound, while she was away for the night in Danville. When she returned later that evening, she found the dog beaten so badly that an eye was displaced from its socket. The animal had to be euthanized the next day due to the severity of its injuries.

In court Friday, lawyers argued over the next step for Waddle, who was initially released on $10,000 bond but landed back in jail Wednesday when he violated the conditions of his release. The contact consisted of 55 text messages that he sent to the victim following his release from jail under the first bond order.

“It was just one hour after he was released from jail that he was violating the condition of his bond,” said Todd Shockley of the Halifax County Commonwealth’s Attorney office, representing the prosecution. Shockley argued that “what the court says is of no consequence” to the defendant and asked Watson to deny him bond.

He also described Waddle as the likely killer of the dog, saying that authorities are awaiting lab results and an autopsy of the animal before deciding whether to proceed with felony animal cruelty charges. He said a police search turned out a blood-covered hammer that appears to have been used in the attack.

He also said that the victim, Hunt, is concerned for her safety and that of her child and “the fear the victim is feeling is very real and very acute.”

Lisa Francisco, Waddle’s lawyer, countered that other suspects could have committed the crime and that Waddle, who lives with his parents, should be allowed to stay out of jail for medical and work-related reasons.

She said Waddle has been a good employee for a local trucking firm and he requires constant medication for addiction to painkillers. She said that rather than Waddle, the attack could have been inflicted by an old boyfriend of Hunt’s, who attacked the dog at some point in the past.

She noted that Hunt, who has lived in the area for a few short months, discovered a possible attack on the dog several weeks ago that would not appear to implicate Waddle. That incident involved an apparent injury to the dog’s eyes, although she did not seek treatment for the pet at the time.

The couple parted amicably on the day the attack occurred. “She had indicated that she was not breaking up but she needed a little space to figure out what was going on,” said Francisco.

She also said the dog “barks excessively at night,” which could also factor into the beating.

Francisco acknowledged that Waddle admitted to entering the basement in one of his texts; another text included an offer of $1,000 not to press charges against him.

Watson ordered the house arrest under the supervision of Waddle’s parents and set strict limits for his movements, allowing him out of the house only for medical or legal matters. He set a followup hearing for Dec. 13.

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