Nathan A. Burke, 37, of Hancock, left, and Justin T. Chipman, 22, of Steuben and Winter Harbor, right, shown during a court hearing in Ellsworth in Sept. 2018. Credit: Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN

Two years after a dog was found shot to death on a Winter Harbor beach, the two men accused of killing it still are contesting the charges against them.

Justin Chipman, 24, of Steuben was sentenced in January to serve three years in prison with all but one year suspended after being convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals, one count of burglary, two counts of theft and one count of criminal mischief. He has filed an appeal of his conviction with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, his defense attorney, Robert Van Horn, said Wednesday.

The other defendant in the case, Nathan Burke, 39, of Hancock, still is facing identical charges in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court. A trial date for Burke has not been set, but a court conference on the status of his case has been scheduled in Ellsworth for next month.

Burke, who has been arrested more than once on bail violations since the August 2018 incident, was released from jail in June on $500 bail, according to court documents. According to his defense attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker, one reason Burke was granted bail in June was because he passed a polygraph test in which he denied having killed the dog.

Burke and Chipman allegedly shot a pug dog named Franky that belonged to a Winter Harbor lobsterman for whom they had worked as sternmen. The lobsterman, Phil Torrey, was out of town on Aug. 24, 2018, when the duo allegedly entered his home, took Franky for a joyride in Torrey’s Hummer and, sometime during the ride, shot and killed the dog. The two men later told police Franky ran off during the outing and they never saw him again.

The dog was found dead six days later on a local beach wrapped in plastic, after it apparently had been shot through the throat, according to an arrest warrant and affidavit.

Toothaker said that how Chipman’s appeal turns out likely will affect how the Hancock County District Attorney’s office decides to continue prosecuting the case against Burke.

Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. Foster has recused himself from the case because it was his wife who found the dog’s body in Winter Harbor.

Avatar photo

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....