DECATUR — Shamar Q. Dawson was sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge and banned from being a caregiver of any animal after pleading guilty to allowing his pet dog to freeze to death in Decatur.

Dawson, 24, accepted a deal negotiated by his assistant public defender, Matthew Butler, that saw him plead guilty Nov. 20 to a charge of cruelty to animals, a class A misdemeanor. Conditional discharge is a non-reporting probation in which the conduct of the defendant is reviewed at the end of the period to see that the requirements have been met.

Dawson appeared in Macon County Circuit Court and was also sentenced to 30 days in the Macon County Jail but will serve no extra time because he was given 30 days credit for a previous 30-day sentence. That had been imposed at a hearing Oct. 11 in an unrelated case that saw Dawson plead guilty to harassment of a witness, a Class 3 felony. He also was sentenced to one year conditional discharge in that case, and the year’s conditional discharge in the dog case was ordered to run concurrently with it.

The animal cruelty case dates to Jan. 9 when Dawson’s pet pit bull, Mary Jane, was found frozen to death in her doghouse. Dawson admitted dragging the dead dog in its doghouse to the backyard of another Decatur home, but in a Herald & Review interview shortly after he was charged, he said he had just been “in shock” after finding the dog’s body and wasn’t trying to cover up the crime.

Dawson said he had fallen on hard times, and Mary Jane and another pit bull, Gee, were being looked after by a friend. Dawson said the friend wasn’t cruel to the dogs, and they had been checked on every day. He said he had gone out of his way to care for them.

“There had been some days when they ate, and I didn’t … that is no exaggeration,” he said at the time.

However, a criminal complaint filed by Macon County Animal Control asserted Mary Jane had been dead for two weeks before her body was found, an allegation Dawson disputed.

In addition to the conditional discharge and being banned from being an animal caregiver, Dawson was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service.

2018 mug shots from the Herald & Review

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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


Macon County Courts Reporter

Macon County courts reporter for the Herald & Review.

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