“I love animals, everybody knows that.” Robert Overton during interview with Ryan Hedrick on WNY News Now late Wednesday.

JAMESTOWN- After the shocking discovery Monday evening of a dog’s decomposed remains hanging in a wooded lot at the intersection of Palmer and Hallock Streets, I searched for any police report connected with Palmer, Hallock and streets nearby.

I found a brief report in The Post-Journal that said  Robert J. Overton Jr., 47, was charged with three counts of 7th degree criminal possession of a controlled substance plus 2nd degree obstruction governmental administration after police were called to 624 Palmer St. about 12:35 p.m. July 7th last year.

 “Upon arrival, police located Overton and a female arguing outside the residence. As officers approached, they reportedly observed Overton walk into the house against their orders.

 “Police allegedly found a plastic container on his person that contained three separate controlled substances. He was taken to city jail to await arraignment.”

TheCAT did not report this incident. We do not report 7th degree drug charges unless coupled with more serious allegations-usually 3rd degree possession or other felony counts.

Wednesday, a reader on our Facebook page said the culprit’s name was “Robert,” but did not provide a last name. However, I had followed up the Overton arrest report by immediately searching for him on Facebook, and Tuesday evening was certain that Overton was the culprit. However, since there was no official report from law enforcement I decided to wait until Overton was publically fingered.

WNY News Now preempted any police announcement with publication of an  “exclusive interview” with Overton conducted by Ryan Hedrick Wednesday evening.

Kudos to Ryan for tracking Overton and getting him to sit for an interview. However, at the risk of appearing to suffer a case of sour grapes, I found the interview unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons.

First, it appears Overton had legal counsel present, but not identified and kept off camera. Early in the interview Hedrick asks, “Are you guys good with the legals?” Someone, not shown nor identified, says, “Yes.” If this response is from legal counsel, Hedrick should have made plain who it was and that Overton was being advised by an attorney.

Overton, his infant daughter Eve visible in a nearby crib, claimed he had faced a choice between his dog and children after the dog allegedly bit his daughter “on the butt, but never broke the skin.” and also bit him on two occasions. “It was about me and my kids and that dog, and I chose my kids,” Overton asserted. He also claimed that “life and death” was involved in his “spur of the moment” action.

At this point the interview began a steep decline as a journalistic effort. Hedrick’s response to Overton’s self-serving and exculpatory explanation is a question: “Why not give the dog a proper burial?”

This question allows Overton to move past his criminal act of inflicting a painful, frightening slow death on one of his family. In fact, Overton states, “I loved that dog, he was part of my family.” (Finally, we learn the dog was a boy. Oh wait! Later Overton corrects himself; the dog was a girl.)

The obvious questions not asked include:

“Did you put the dog on a leash to control it?”

“Why did you choose to strangle the animal?”

“Did you strangle the dog in your residence and then take the corpse to the wooded lot, or did you take the dog to the lot and hang it there?”

“When did you kill your dog?”

And so on and so forth.

Overton’s explainations and assertions that he loved “that dog” are preposterous on their face and should have been directly challenged with very obvious questions.

In response to the question of a proper burial, Overton admits “that dog deserved a proper burial,” but he was acting “in the heat of the moment.”

So another obvious question:

“Okay, you claim you acted hastily. Why did you allow the dog to rot hanging from a tree for (however long it was)?” Do you allow “a member of the family” that you “love” to hang ignominiously from  a tree and decompose?

As the “interview” continues Overton again and again claims that he loves animals, that all who know him would testify to that fact, and finally concludes, unchallenged with this whopper:

 “I didn’t do that shit on purpose.” 

A living being doesn’t die quickly when choked or strangled. Even if the assault started “in the heat of the moment” it could be stopped before life is gone. The victim gags, the eyes bulge, the tongue protrudes, the bladder empties-there are plenty of signs that death is approaching and plenty of time to release the noose or hands before the crime is completed. Any competent medical text will reveal the grisly details.

Hedrick does ask why the Humane Society wasn’t called, but doesn’t follow up as Overton rationalizes his criminal act with breathtaking mendacity.

And Finally Hedrick quietly asks of Overton, “What do you want the public know?” allowing a confessed dog killer yet more time to offer excuses.

Another question: If Overton’s lawyer was present why did he or she allow this interview?

Perhaps to lay the foundation of Overton’s legal defense.

Here’s a part of Article 26 of New York’s Agriculture Laws pertaining to cruel treatment of animals:

“A person is guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals when, with no justifiable purpose, he or she intentionally kills or intentionally causes serious physical injury to a companion animal with aggravated cruelty. For purposes of this section, “aggravated cruelty” shall mean conduct which: (i) is intended to cause extreme physical pain; or (ii) is done or carried out in an especially depraved or sadistic manner.
2. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit or
interfere in any way with anyone lawfully engaged in hunting, trapping,
or fishing, as provided in article eleven of the environmental
conservation law, the dispatch of rabid or diseased animals, as provided
in article twenty-one of the public health law, or the dispatch of
animals posing a threat to human safety …” 

Note well the two “mitigating circumstances” that Overton brought up during his interview: Namely, the dog was “sick” and throwing up “manure”- a diseased animal as mentioned in Article 26, and also the dog posed a serious threat to the family-his infant daughter, his pregnant wife. His legal team will argue both of these you may be assured.

We’ll see what evolves as this story moves into “the system.”