BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — It’s been almost two years since a Sebastian Police Department K-9 died inside a patrol car. On Tuesday, jury selection finally begun for the dog’s handler, who is accused of leaving the dog inside the vehicle.
- Officer Eric Antosia on trial for death of K-9 in 2017
- His K-9 "Diesel" was found dead in his patrol car
- Antosia faces a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge
- PREVIOUS: Charges filed against Sebastian Police officer in K-9 death
According to court documents, Officer Eric Antosia was a K-9 handler for about seven years, and “Diesel” was his second K-9.
But in April 2017, Diesel was found dead in his patrol car. Antosia is accused of leaving the dog in his patrol vehicle, outside the Brevard County Courthouse, while he was inside for a hearing. He has been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.
The state and defense held jury selection to narrow the jury pool to six people, plus two alternates.
The defense is hoping to cast doubt, because according to court documents, the veterinarian that examined Diesel concluded the findings were consistent with a heat stroke. But said a formal necropsy wasn't performed since the veterinarian had no formal training in that procedure.
“What the jury is going to learn is what I've been saying from the beginning, the state has no evidence as to when Diesel the dog died, where Diesel the K-9 died, or how Diesel the K-9 died,” said Defense Attorney Greg Eisenmenger.
But the state is saying there does not have to be criminal intent for a crime to have been committed.
“Does there have to be criminal intent? That’s not the law. The law in misdemeanor animal cruelty covers any act or omission. It doesn't not have to be criminal for there to be an intent. That would move the case to a felony,” the State Attorney said.
Court documents state that Antosia was using a backup canine patrol vehicle the day Diesel died.
Sebastian Police canine patrol units are equipped with a Hot-N-Pop system that gets fully activated when the inside temperature of the vehicle reaches 95.3 degrees. When that happens windows open, the horn honks and emergency lights flashed.
Those same documents say the backup vehicle’s system never alerted Antosia.
The jury pool consists of 10 women and six men, with jury selection still underway. According to the judge, the misdemeanor trial should be wrapped up by Thursday.