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Charges against Virginia man who killed vet’s service dog go to the grand jury

Crystal Graham
Joeseph Sande with Bear
Joeseph Sande with Bear, submitted

The charges against Louis Edward Davis, the 67-year-old man accused of killing his neighbor’s service dog, will move to the Circuit Court Grand Jury on Jan. 22 after a preliminary hearing was held this afternoon in Augusta County General District Court.

District Court Judge Rupen Shah upheld the felony animal cruelty and misdemeanor reckless handling of a firearm charges against Davis.

Augusta County Sheriff 1st Sgt. Michael “Mike” Roane testified at the hearing that he met with Davis on Sept. 16 to discuss the death of his neighbor’s service dog, Buddy Bear or Bear, on Sept. 15. Roane testified that Davis gave multiple accounts of what happened on that Friday morning to him, saying at first that the bullet likely ricocheted and inadvertently hit Bear.

Roane testified that the dog’s owner, Joeseph Sande, a veteran, showed him the blood stain in the road where Bear was shot.

After Davis was arrested, Roane testified that Louis’ wife, Teresa Griffin Davis, urged Louis to tell the truth about what happened. Davis allegedly then told Roane that he had shot the husky with a .44 Magnum revolver.

Roane testified that Davis said the dog was not aggressive toward him or his cats, although Davis allegedly told Roane that other neighborhood dogs had interactions with them in the past.

Roane testified that Davis surrendered his firearm at the time of his arrest.

No other witnesses testified at the preliminary hearing.

A grand jury will determine if the case has probable cause to move forward with judicial proceedings in Circuit Court. The defense would have the choice between a bench trial with a Circuit Court judge or a jury trial.

Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Kyle Powers said the case should be heard within nine months from today’s hearing in order to meet the definition of a speedy trial.

Other matters before the court

Assault charges pending against Teresa Davis

Judge Shah also oversaw the assault and battery charges pending against Teresa Davis related to two separate criminal complaints for alleged incidents on Sept. 28 and Oct. 7.

On Sept. 28, Joeseph Sande filed a criminal complaint against Teresa Davis after he said he was walking his surviving husky, Hazel, and a blue sedan driven by Teresa Davis sped up and came toward him.

Joeseph said at the hearing that he could clearly see Teresa Davis as she accelerated toward him and his dog, and she had “pure rage on her face.”

A second incident reportedly occurred on Oct. 7 when Joeseph Sande, and his wife, Edith, were returning from a trip to Pennsylvania. The Sandes testified that Teresa Davis again came at them while in her blue sedan, and they had to run their truck off the road to avoid an accident.

Joeseph Sande said he feared for their lives.

The defense attorney for Teresa Davis, Gene Hart, produced a cell phone allegedly owned by Davis which had numerous videos from a dash camera in her vehicle.

Davis said that she started the recordings after the Sept. 28 incident where she said she was arrested, fingerprinted and had her mug shot taken in order “to protect herself.”

Powers showed the judge how the video could easily be edited to change the timestamp.

Shah and Powers reviewed a video showing Davis allegedly from Oct. 7 at the time of the alleged incident, and the video did not show her passing the Sandes’ vehicle. However, Powers pointed out that the video was only four minutes long, which in his mind, showed the video had likely been edited.

Judge Shah ultimately sided with the defense and dismissed the two assault charges stemming from the Oct. 7 incident.

However, Shah continued the Sept. 28 assault case until May 28 at 10 a.m. giving in his words time “to see how the parties behave.”

After the court hearing, Joeseph Sande expressed disappointment over the dismissal of the Oct. 7 assault charge.

“I was definitely let down,” he said. “I feel like the court system did not have the good citizen’s back in this case.”

Preliminary protective orders

Preliminary protective orders were granted for Joeseph and Edith Sande and a neighbor, Renee Roberts, following a circuit court judge’s decision to release Louis Davis on bond on appeal on Oct. 6.

The protective orders against both Louis and Teresa Davis for Roberts and the Sandes were scheduled to expire today.

Judge Shah extended the preliminary protective orders against the Davises in the case of the Sandes.

For Roberts, the PPO was extended against Louis Davis, but the PPO against Teresa Davis was dismissed. Judge Shah said because Louis Davis is charged with reckless handling of a firearm and lives near Roberts, he agreed an extension should be granted. However, he did not find enough evidence to support continuing the PPO against Teresa Davis in Roberts’ case.

The extensions were granted through May 28 at 10 a.m. Both defense attorneys have the right to appeal the extensions, Shah said.

Potential bond violation

During the PPO hearings, another neighbor, Tana Ferrier, testified under oath that she witnessed Louis Davis at his home on Dec. 3.

This would violate the court order related to the case, which ordered Louis Davis to reside at an alternate address on Pinebark Drive in Waynesboro under condition of his bond.

Any violation of the judge’s order could subject Louis Davis to immediate arrest and incarceration, new criminal charges and forfeiture of the bond.

The Sandes said after the court hearing that they have notified the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office of Louis Davis’ presence at his home, but no action was taken to determine his whereabouts.

The Sandes and neighbors were advised by Powers to continue to notify the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office and Commonwealth Attorney’s Office of any incidents that take place in the future.

Joeseph Sande told AFP that he doesn’t feel safe in Augusta County because they’ve reported incidents to the sheriff’s office, and “nothing is done about it.”

He said he doesn’t know what else to do.

The protective order is “just a piece of paper, and they’re going to violate it again if they get the chance.”

Wrap up

The Sandes said they are trying to keep their mind off the pending court case and staying busy working on home-improvement projects and preparing for friends and family who plan to visit over the holidays.

Joeseph’s service dog, Bear, helped Sande with PTSD, night terrors and anxiety after his service to the country – serving in Afghanistan, Bagram, Kuwait and Iraq. Without Bear at his side, he’s struggling to get through each day.

“I stay up until 1 a.m. working on the house right now because I can’t sleep, and I just don’t know,” Joeseph Sande said. “My mind is just going 100 miles an hour every day.”

It is unclear if the court, the county or Blue Ridge Court Services will pursue the apparent bond violation for Louis Davis. Powers said after court that multiple agencies could bring the alleged violation up before Circuit Court for a violation of the court order pertaining to the bond.

The remaining assault case against Teresa Davis was continued until May 28 at 10 a.m.

The PPOs are also scheduled to expire on May 28 at 10 a.m. unless an additional extension is granted.

The felony and misdemeanor trial for charges against Louis Davis for the shooting death of the Sandes’ service dog, Bear, will likely be set by all parties after the grand jury convenes.

AFP asked Powers whether the Commonwealth will seek the full five-year term for the felony crime for which Louis Davis is alleged to have committed.

Powers said his office has not made a decision at this time.

“I feel like five years isn’t even close enough to what he should face,” Joeseph Sande told AFP Tuesday night.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.