May 27 Deadline Set for Owner to ‘Submit Himself’ to Court Order
MONTROSE — A Montrose County Judge has given Jeremiah Aguilar, the owner of the 107-pound American Allaunt canine named Dutch sentenced to death after attacking a woman last year, a "reasonable opportunity" to resolve his status as a "fugitive from justice" before she dismisses Aguilar's appeal in the dog's euthanasia order.
Last Friday Associate Montrose County Judge Julie Huffman, who is presiding over Aguilar's appeal, issued an order stating if Aguilar returns to Montrose and "submits himself to the orders of the trial court no later than 4 p.m. on Monday, May 27th, then the court shall not dismiss this appeal."
Aguilar failed to appear for a contempt of Municipal Court hearing in April and has not surrendered the animal to officers as ordered by Montrose Municipal Court Judge Richard Brown after a trial last February. While Dutch was ordered to be euthanized, Brown's order stated Dutch would not be harmed before the outcome of the appeal.
Aguilar, a disabled veteran of the U.S. Army, is appealing both his Montrose Municipal Court conviction and the euthanasia order. Aguilar asserted that because he is not an "escaped prisoner" his appeal is protected under the Fugitive Disentitlement Doctrine.
Huffman wrote Aguilar has fled the jurisdiction of both the trial court and the appellate court and his "status as a fugitive from justice is not cured by the efforts of his council to pursue the appeal in his absence."
Quoting previous court rulings Huffman also said, "a defendant who has voluntarily fled and remains a fugitive from justice during appeal, is not entitled to appellate relief."
"With the failure to appear, we are looking for a dismissal," Montrose City Attorney Stephen Alcorn previously told The Watch.
The victim in the Nov. 14, 2012 attack was treated for "deep bite wounds” to her buttock, thigh and hand," according to a press release from the city after the attack. The bites severed an artery and caused a compound fracture to her middle finger of her right hand. The victim has accrued over $28,000 in medical expenses since the attack.
Aguilar's appeal was scheduled for a three-person jury trial May 16-17. It remains unknown from Aguilar's legal representation (the Lancaster Law Firm of Benton, Ark.) what Aguilar's next move will be.
Aguilar told Brown he suffers flashbacks, extreme fear and anxiety and loss of security from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and said Dutch helps him cope with his condition. Aguilar maintains that Dutch is a service dog, a contention that has drawn hundreds of thousands of comments on social media worldwide.
"If Mr. Aguilar chooses to remain a fugitive from justice, then the court shall dismiss this appeal without further notice on May 27th at 4 p.m.," Huffman's order reads.