ROCKLAND — A prison guard who initially mistook a dog for a deer during hunting season was sentenced to 90 days in jail for shooting the animal and then stabbing it to death in a panic.
Knox County District Court Judge Michael Wescott on Tuesday sentenced William R. Kasabuski, 50, of Appleton to six months in jail with all but 90 days suspended on a charge of cruelty to animals. Kasabuski received a concurrent 90-day sentence on a charge of shooting domestic animals. Kasabuski pleaded guilty to both charges.
According to Rockland attorney Daniel Purdy, who represented Kasabuski in court, the shooting of the mixed breed Irish setter-golden retriever took place Nov. 29, the final day of hunting season. The dog, named Ginger, lived with the William Nystrom family of Rockland and was visiting with Nystrom family members in Appleton.
“He saw something that he thought was a deer and bang, he shot it,” Purdy said Friday. “After that he just panicked.”
Purdy said that when Kasabuski came upon a wounded Ginger he apparently decided to put her out of her misery with his knife. In a panic, he slit the dog’s throat in two places and stabbed her 28 times about the neck and chest.
Purdy said Kasabuski stabbed the dog repeatedly because the knife kept striking the rib cage, keeping him from quickly piercing her heart. Ginger’s heart was apparently still beating when Kasabuski stuffed her wounded carcass under a stump and went to his nearby home, according to an affidavit filed with the case by Inland Fisheries and Wildlife warden Mark Thompson.
Thompson said he was called to the scene by Pam Clark, the Nystrom family friend who had taken Ginger to visit Daryl and Brenda Vinal, Appleton neighbors of Kasabuski’s.
Clark told Thompson that she had let Ginger and two Vinal family dogs outside and that when she called the dogs 10 minutes later, Ginger never returned.
Clark and her son Michael eventually went into the woods looking for Ginger but could find no trace. At some point during their search, Michael knocked on Kasabuski’s door to inquire about Ginger, but nobody answered the door. The Clarks later saw Kasabuski leave the house.
Meanwhile, Vinal was conducting his own search and learned from another neighbor of a gunshot fired in the woods behind the Kasabuski home earlier that afternoon. Vinal went into the woods where he found traces of fresh blood in the newly fallen snow. He followed the blood trail and discovered the dying Ginger under the stump, Thompson said.
Thompson noted that boot prints he observed in the vicinity of the bloody snow were similar to those found in Kasabuski’s yard. Thompson said he tracked those prints to a chair overlooking an abandoned gravel pit.
Thompson stated that he also observed a mark in the snow that resembled the track of a bullet. When he followed the “trajectory line” of the bullet, it led “directly to the footprints that had been followed from the Kasabuski residence.”
After studying the scene, Thompson concluded that “whoever had shot the dog had dragged it another 40 yards and hid it under a stump.”
Purdy said that Kasabuski admitted in court that he had killed Ginger. He said Kasabuski lost his corrections officer job at the Maine State Prison as a result of this incident and that he has been undergoing counseling since the shooting.
“He just panicked, and the court concluded that he panicked,” Purdy said.
Along with the jail term, Judge Wescott also ordered that Kasabuski serve one year probation upon his release. Kasabuski was given until Feb. 1 to begin his jail term.
“I don’t know whether or not you could consider it a severe sentence,” Purdy said. “There are so few of these cases that it’s almost impossible to say whether it’s a normal sentence.”