Jury convicts former New Freedom man for killing girlfriend's 5-pound dog

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Leo, a 5-pound Yorkshire terrier, died after being kicked in the head by his owner's then-boyfriend, Earl Allen, according to Southern Regional Police.

A former New Freedom man could go to prison for killing his girlfriend's Yorkshire terrier last year, apparently by kicking it in the head.

It took jurors less than an hour to convict Earl Carl Allen, according to senior deputy prosecutor Justin Roberts — and that hour included lunch. 

They found Allen guilty Thursday, Nov. 7, of the third-degree felony of aggravated cruelty to animals/causing serious bodily injury or death, as well as the second-degree misdemeanor of cruelty to animals.

Allen, 53, now of York City, remains free on bail awaiting sentencing, currently set for Jan. 29, according to court records.

"I'm hopeful the judge sentences him to a period of incarceration," Roberts told The York Dispatch. "I'm a pet person myself and, yes, every case matters. But Leo was a 5-pound Yorkshire terrier. It's upsetting that he suffered the level of injury he did. I'm pleased justice prevailed."

Allen's defense attorney, George Marros, did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.

The background: Allen gave investigating Patrolman Paul Heffner of Southern Regional Police several versions of what happened that led to the death of Leo in the North Third Street home where Allen lived at the time, charging documents state.

According to those documents, a slightly out of breath Allen called his then-girlfriend as she was driving home from work about 3:45 p.m. April 23, 2018, and told her something was wrong with Leo, her 9-year-old Yorkie.

A jury on Nov. 7, 2019, found Earl Carl Allen guilty of aggravated animal cruelty for killing a 5-pound Yorkshire terrier named Leo.

The woman, whose last name isn't in charging documents, rushed home and found Leo with a large blood clot in his ear, police said.

"Leo was motionless with his eyes open," Heffner wrote in charging documents.

The girlfriend asked Allen to drive her and Leo to Prettyboy Animal Hospital in Freeland, Maryland, but she ended up driving herself because Allen declined, police said.

Despite CPR efforts at the animal hospital, Leo died, according to police, who said the treating veterinarian determined the Yorkie's skull was fractured.

Prime suspect: Allen quickly became the primary suspect because he was the only person home at the time, according to Heffner.

Initially, Allen claimed he was cooking, heard the dogs in the house barking, went upstairs to investigate and found Leo lying at the bathroom door, documents state.

"His story varied then," Heffner wrote, and Allen said he was in his bedroom with the door closed when he heard barking and came out in time to see Leo run past him and collapse at the bedroom door, according to charging documents.

The next day, April 24, 2018, Allen went to the Southern Regional Police station and again denied hurting Leo, police said.

Southern Regional Police had a forensic necropsy done on Leo's body by a Penn State diagnostic lab, according to police. Autopsies on animals are called necropsies.

The procedure determined Leo suffered a number of skull fractures, a brain hemorrhage, a ruptured ear drum, subcutaneous head bleeding and a bruised lung, according to charging documents. The lung injury most likely was caused by CPR, police said.

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'Not accidental': The lab also determined Leo died of blunt-force trauma that was not accidental in nature, documents state.

Leo's head injuries "are consistent with a high force injury and may have resulted from more than one impact," and they crushed the top of the Yorkie's skull, documents state.

The injuries "are typically associated with very high force impacts" and not consistent with falling from a height, animal attacks or being struck by a vehicle, Heffner wrote.

Allen spoke with Heffner again on July 7, 2018, and said he had only told "70 percent of the truth," documents state, adding, "The dog is dead because of me."

He then told the officer that he was drying off from a shower and had a towel over his head when he felt hair on his feet and kicked, "because he didn't know what it was," documents state.

Showered in shoes? Allen said that "When he removed the towel from his face, Leo was lying there at the door," documents state.

Under more questioning, Allen said he was wearing steel-toed shoes — despite just having stepped out of the shower, according to court documents.

"Allen's continued variances in his recollection indicate that (he) is still not being entirely truthful," Heffner wrote.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.