Judge refuses plea bargain in Hunt case | SierraSun.com

Judge refuses plea bargain in Hunt case

In a hearing Tuesday at the Truckee branch of the Nevada County Superior Court, Judge Anders Holmer refused to accept the plea bargain agreement in the case of a man accused of shooting a Truckee dog.

After Holmer stated his intention to sentence outside of the terms outlined in the conditional plea agreement, the attorney for Josh Hunt, the 20-year-old Truckee man accused of taking a dog from a nearby residence on Jan. 13 and shooting it, asked for a continuance to consider whether or not to withdraw his client’s plea.

Holmer, after a 20 minute “judicial lecture” which attempted to clarify the procedures of the court, the defense, the district attorney’s office and the probation department, said, “I cannot accept the terms attached to the plea.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Hunt had agreed to plead no contest to one felony count of animal cruelty, provided sentencing did not exceed terms outlined in the plea agreement.

Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Fred Holmes then stated that, despite being bound by the terms of the agreement, his office was withdrawing support for the plea agreement.

Holmes said that because of “Mr. Hunt’s unwillingness to accept any responsibility for his conduct the people withdraw their support of the original plea.”

The move surprised Hunt’s attorney, John Kennelly.

“It’s never occurred in my experience … this is new,” he said, referring to the district attorney’s withdrawal of support.

Holmes later acknowledged that withdrawing from a plea agreement “is a fairly rare event, but not unheard of.”

Kennelly alleged previous attacks by “Oscar,” the mastiff Hunt is accused of killing, against Hunt’s own dog.

“There is one thing nobody disagrees with, this dog was running loose. This 225-pound mastiff dog … this dog was on Mr. Hunt’s property, attacking Mr. Hunt’s dog,” he claimed.

Kennelly then alleged that Oscar had attacked Hunt’s dog “four times in four months” prior to the killing.

Holmer said factors he will consider prior to sentencing include the seriousness of the offense, the youthfulness of Hunt, and his lack of prior criminal history as an adult.

Holmes granted a continuance until Tuesday, July 31.

Hunt will then either withdraw his plea of no contest and face a jury trial, or be sentenced.

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