Dog shooter sentenced

Dog shooter sentenced

Jimmy Gosch, 55, claimed an aggressive dog on his property caused him to go get his rifle to shoot and kill the animal, but a Jefferson County judge found the defendant acted out of cruelty instead of fear. For the crime, Gosch was sentenced to serve one year in a Texas state jail on Aug. 13.

It’s been a year since the dog’s demise, according to information presented before Jefferson County Judge John Stevens’ Criminal District Court on July 18. Beaumont police responded to Gosch’s residence May 13, 2017, called in to assist in defusing a verbal dispute between Gosch and his neighbor. The neighbor claimed Gosch shot his dog “for no reason,” the dead animal still on Gosch’s property when the owner came to retrieve his pet.

The Office of Jefferson County Criminal District Attorney Bob Wortham released details of the investigation and trial after sentencing.

“Upon investigation, (Gosch) admitted to police that he shot and killed the neighbor’s dog,” Wortham’s office reported. “Gosch indicated that the dog had come onto his property and acted aggressive.

“According to Gosch, he then went back into his house, retrieved his .22 caliber Marlon rifle, sat down in a chair on his (enclosed) porch, opened a window and shot the dog, located about 50 steps away.

“The dog’s owner arrived and claimed that Gosch had not been threatened by his pet. He indicated Gosch was holding a rifle and threatened him as well.”

Photos submitted into evidence depict Gosch’s porch as arranged to allow for shooting targets out the windows. Once all the evidence was in hand, Judge Stevens found Gosch guilty of cruelty to animals and reset the case for sentencing. The punishment range for a state jail felony is from 180 days to two years in the state jail and a fine not to exceed $10,000. Aug. 13, Stevens sentenced Gosch to one year in the state jail.

Assistant Criminal District Attorney Michael Morgan indicated he was pleased with the verdict and sentencing, saying that Stevens “held the defendant accountable and proved that this county will not tolerate cruelty to any person or animal.”

Morgan told The Examiner that the evidence didn’t support Gosch’s claims of self-defense.

“He said he was out by the pool,” Morgan related. “That was his story, but we have firm evidence he was never outside the house.”

Even if Gosch had been outside the house at some point that day, he admitted that he shot the dog after he was safely inside.

“We took away all of his defenses,” Morgan said. “By the time he shot that dog, he was not afraid, according to him. (Gosch) just wanted to be able to go back out and clean the pool.”

Morgan said that persons in fear of immediate harm from any aggressive animal have the right to use lethal force to protect themselves. Killing domesticated pets without just cause, however, is not tolerated by the justice system.

“Domestic animals are protected. … Any animal outside of hunting – you can’t just kill them,” Morgan said. “Everybody agreed (Gosch) was inside when he shot the dog; he just had another animal to shoot in his backyard.”

Typically, according to information obtained by the prosecutor, Gosch can be found making target practice out of wildlife unlucky enough to scurry into his yard, where he has set up feeders to attract the critters.

“He keeps his guns right there by him,” in the window, Morgan said. “He said he shoots out that window all the time.” This time, however, “he got to use his scope.”

Morgan said “within about 30 seconds” of Stevens’ sentencing, Gosch was taken into custody to begin serving his debt to society.

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