A Manchester man facing six months in prison for fatally shooting his neighbor's dog maintains he killed 1-year-old Chincee because he has an abnormal fear of dogs.

"He felt very, very badly about what happened," attorney Frank Arcuri said of his client, Joel T. Jackson. "He was surprised a BB gun would have that kind of effect."

Jackson, 50, of 106 York St., went to the home of MaryKay Ayers in the first block of York Street March 9 and shot Chincee, her 16-year-old son's German shepherd/boxer mix.

He was found guilty Oct. 3 of first-degree misdemeanor cruelty to animals, but was acquitted of reckless endangerment by presiding Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn.

Sentencing is set for 11 a.m. Nov. 19, court records state.

Arcuri said his client wasn't seriously fighting the cruelty charge, only the endangerment charge.

'Deep end': "He admitted being guilty (of animal cruelty)," Arcuri said. "He says that he has an abnormal fear of dogs, and that the dog scared him. He kind of went off the deep end a little bit. ... But he maintains he did not recklessly endanger anybody, and the good judge agreed with him."

Arcuri said Jackson didn't mean to kill the dog and previously wrote two letters of apology to the Ayers family.

"It was a pellet gun, not a real gun, and he thought he was just going to sting the dog," the attorney said.

The weapon was never recovered because Jackson destroyed it after shooting Chincee, according to Northeastern Regional Police, who also have said Jackson initially denied shooting the dog.


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Under the state's deadly-weapons enhancement provision, Jackson will have to spend six months in county prison, according to Arcuri. But if the judge decides the BB gun cannot be considered a deadly weapon, then Jackson could receive probation, the attorney said.

Prosecutor Susan Emmons declined comment.

What happened: A witness told police she was on her back porch about 7:40 p.m. March 9 when she saw a man later identified as Jackson walk up to Ayers' fence, according to court documents. She said she heard a loud bang, then heard one of the dogs squealing. Jackson -- who had the hood of his sweatshirt over his head -- ran down the street, but the witness followed him to 106 York St. and told him she'd seen what he did, after which Jackson walked inside his home, Northeastern Regional Police said.

After initially denying involvement, Jackson admitted to it, telling police Chincee and a second dog kept in the Ayers' fenced-in yard "seemed aggressive."

He acknowledged the dogs had never escaped from the yard, but said they still made him "nervous," court documents state.

n March, MaryKay Ayers told The York Dispatch that Chincee would stand up against the fence so people walking by could greet and pet her.

"She probably thought (Jackson) was going to pet her, but he shot her instead," Ayers said.

-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.