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March 4, 2013

Hearing set Tuesday in grisly pitbull case

The 27-year-old Prospect Street man accused of gutting his pet pitbull, Xena, in what police believe was an attempt to remove heroin from the dog’s innards, will return to court Tuesday, when a judge will review the status of his case.

John “Jack” Dugan of Gloucester was arrested in December, two days after police first received a report of a dog carcass thrown against a fence that separates Sadler Street from the woods above the Route 128 extension.

His lawyer John Morris, has said it is likely that Dugan’s case will be shifted to the Superior Court’s jurisdiction after tomorrow’s hearing.

Dugan is expected to walk into court free of handcuffs Tuesday, since he was released from Middleton Jail upon meeting the terms of his cash bail in mid-January. Eugene C. Tessicini, also of Gloucester, laid down $20,000 in bail to gain the release of Dugan on Jan. 13, and Dugan registered Tessicini’s residence as the place he would be staying for the remainder of his trial, according to court documents.

Since this could be Dugan’s final appearance in Gloucester District Court, animal rights activists and Gloucester residents who have followed the case since it first made headlines in December may show up at the court hearing in protest of Dugan’s alleged actions, with murmurings of an organized protest having arisen through out the case.

As of Friday afternoon, more than 93,000 people had signed an Internet petition urging Judge Joseph Jennings to peg Dugan with the maximum sentence. That petition is set to expire Tuesday, the day of the status hearing.

Still, Dugan’s former court appointed attorney Thomas O’Shea had filed a motion to dismiss the case on grounds, he said at the time, that the case lacked an element of “cruelty,” since the Massachusetts law’s definition of cruelty does not include harm inflicted on a deceased animal. O’Shea had argued that Massachusetts law defines animal cruelty as to “overload, overwork, torment, deprive of necessary sustenance, cruelly beat, mutilate or kill an animal.” O’Shea had written that his client, Dugan, performed none of those acts in the Dec. 3 incident, saying the dog’s ingestion of heroin — not Dugan’s cutting open of Xena — killed the dog.

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