Neighbor pleads guilty to killing St. George family’s 2-pound Yorkie with pruning shears

This file photo shows a small pet dog, named Chewy, that was later allegedly killed by a man weilding pruning shears, photo location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Nancy Jean, St. George News

ALERT: This article contains a graphic photo of the dog involved in the incident. Reader discretion is advised.

ST. GEORGE — A St. George man accused of killing his neighbor’s 2-pound Yorkshire Terrier, named “Chewy,” with pruning shears has pleaded guilty to an animal cruelty charge.

Kenyon Clark Benson, 74, previously pleaded not guilty to the animal abuse charge in Washington County Justice Court before Judge Douglas Whitlock, telling the judge that the dog’s death was accidental.

Nancy Jean posted this photo on Facebook showing her neighbor, Kenyon Benson, holding the pruning shears he used to strike and kill her family’s 2-pound Yorkshire Terrier with, St. George, Utah, November 2016 | Photo courtesy of Nancy Jean, St. George News

Benson was to face a trial by court rather than by jury Tuesday, but chose to forgo the bench trial and pleaded guilty to a class C misdemeanor count of aggravated cruelty to an animal.

In exchange for his guilty plea, the St. George City Attorney’s Office recommended that the court sentence Benson to serve 90 days in jail with the 90-day term suspended, and that he be placed on a 12-month bench probation instead.

As part of the plea deal, Benson must also pay $2,109.03 in restitution to the Justice Court and write a full-page letter of apology to a 12-year-old girl who owned the dog and witnessed his death.

The criminal charge dates back to a call made to police by Nancy Limburg last November stating that her neighbor had beaten her family’s tiny pet dog to death with a pair of gardening shears in front of her 12-year-old daughter.

The St. George Police Department subsequently opened an investigation into the matter.

Read more: Man allegedly kills small pet dog with pruning shears

A small Yorkshire Terrier, named Chewy, lies dead after being killed by a neighbor with pruning shears, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Nancy Jean, St. George News

“What is known and is not in dispute, is that a small dog entered the neighbor’s yard and approached the man, who was maintaining his landscaping,” the Police Department said in a November statement. “The man swung a long handled pruning sheer (sic) at the dog when it approached him. The sheers (sic) ended up striking the dog in the head, killing it instantly.”

According to court documents, Benson told police he was in his front yard on the 500 North block of 2040 East pruning his roses when his neighbor let the dog out.

“Mr. Benson said the dog came screaming across the road and was barking,” according to a court affidavit filed in the case. “Mr. Benson stated he swung at the dog with the pruners to shoo it away and accidentally hit the dog in the head.”

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Rob83 August 15, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    First of all it was clearly an accident, wow. Let’s allow parents to leave their kids in their car with punishments but allow a dog to charge somebody and than charge him up the wa-zoo for protecting himself? Secondly, why do the courts get such a huge fine paid and the little girl who suffered, not to mention probably a good amount for a Yorkie, only gets a letter? Screwy…

    • desertgirl August 15, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      He was protecting hisself from the Yorkie? Really? Wow, applies to you and your sad state of mind. The man should serve time for acting like a Tazmanian Devil

      • Rob83 August 15, 2017 at 4:31 pm

        You don’t know what experiences he has gone through, some people are afraid of dogs, any size. Especially when they are running up to you barking. Thanks for being so closed minded, smart one!

        • Real Life August 16, 2017 at 7:23 am

          A two pound dog? Really? You are an idiot.

          • Spencer August 16, 2017 at 2:18 pm

            A 2 pound rat dog with sharp little teeth. I’d club one with what ever was handy if I thought it might bite me.
            Keep your dog out of other peoples yards, and you won’t have to worry.

          • Jimmym August 16, 2017 at 5:44 pm

            Have you ever been attacked by a dog? Bitten by a dog? I hope not, because once it happens you become anxious, nervous, fearful, and defensive around any dog.

            I would strike or kick or swing any object at any dog that came barking at me. I will never again make the mistake of believing owners when they say it’s a “nice dog”.

            There are dog laws for a reason. Keep your animals on a leash and we won’t have a problem. You never know what somebody has been through.

  • Rob83 August 15, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Why don’t the victims in DV cases get nothing when they’re the ones who suffered, not the court system! Oh no, all the money that gets paid out goes into the pockets of the government, no wonder anytime a cop is called out they are all so happy to take someone into custody (mandatory now?), it’s disgusting!

    • fixitfairy August 15, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      That isn’t accurate. When there is violent crime (DV, rape, assault, stalking, etc) and a fine is imposed, the money is allocated to a grant fund for the victim to receive a victim’s advocate, counseling and various other resources that will far exceed the monetary value of the fine, ten fold. Also, a lot of fines are not paid, and sent to collections. The victim will still get every benefit offered through the UOVC. They have helped victim’s even if the case wasn’t prosecuted in court.

  • ScanMeister August 15, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    So sad indeed. I don’t buy the accident story. This was a vicious violent act. I think at least some jail time would have been appropriate.

    • mesaman August 16, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      I doubt if anyone, other than the supercilious pet owners, cares what you think.

  • peanutz714 August 15, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    First of all, was it really necessary to show a picture of the deceased animal ? This dog belonged to a 12 year old girl . Now you have a picture of the man with bloody shears and a dead dog .Have some compassion St. george news! Also , an accident ? ” whoops! That dog walked right into my shears !”

    • ladybugavenger August 15, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      It came with a warning….you knew what you were getting into

  • Foxyheart August 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    It really makes no difference if it was an accident or not….the dog was out of his yard, ran to this guys property where he was minding his own business and he takes a swing (intending to fend him off or to kill, only he knows.) Where is the culpability of the dog’s owner? I am sorry the dog got hurt, but he should have been restrained and on a leash as the law states.

  • desertgirl August 15, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    He should have done the 90 days and that isn’t enough. Sick of the sickos that abuse and kill animals and anyone who defends them. May you all rot.

    • Rob83 August 15, 2017 at 4:33 pm

      Get a life DesertGirl, humans are more important than animals. For the mom of the child to even call the cops was being dramatic, that’s what this town is all about. Who cares about our children and animals have top priority!

      • Real Life August 16, 2017 at 7:24 am

        Once again, you are an idiot.

        • Jimmym August 16, 2017 at 5:49 pm

          Nice response. Glad to see you are so open minded to the opinions of others.
          I suspect you have lived a life of entitlement. It’s always your way or the highway. At least that’s how you are treating others here.

          Sad, really.

  • Michael August 15, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    And let the uneducated public cast stones.

  • Common Sense August 15, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    I am confused as to what Nancy saw. She said she saw the neighbor beat the dog to death in front of the 12 year old. He says he was trying to shoo it away. Those are two pretty different descriptions of what actually took place. Either way, the dog got out and if it’s head hadn’t run into the neighbors shears as he was shooing at away it would have gotten hit by a car and ruined somebody else’s day. I do not think this guy should have fines and “bench probation” if there is no proof that he maliciously beat it to death.

  • Foxyheart August 15, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Dog was not ‘abused.’ Dog leash laws are there for a reason. Small dogs can attack like any big dog. I love animals, but if a dog can running at me barking and all I would swing at it or kick at it. Whether or not I made contact does not matter. The dog’s owner was at fault. period.

  • ladybugavenger August 15, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    I wonder how many times this dog annoyed that neighbor. Keep your dogs on a leash and in your yard. Not everyone likes dogs. Oh! And pick up your dogs poop!

    The worst part of the story is not that it happened but that the little girl watched this happen. I feel for her, it’s her chewy. Next doggie you have please keep on a leash.

    • Real Life August 16, 2017 at 7:24 am

      You are wrong in this one LB.

      • ladybugavenger August 16, 2017 at 7:11 pm

        sorry about that real life. I’m a cat person.

      • ladybugavenger August 17, 2017 at 1:47 pm

        I still think the worst part of the story is the girl watching this happen to her dog- it’s devastating. People annoyed with neighbors animals don’t usually kill them with garden tools.

  • Lastdays August 15, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Not sure about circumstances of this issue (because I didn’t witness it) but there’s nothing more annoying than a yapping Pomeranian or a Yorkie when you’re out in the yard.
    Probably an accident to kill it but the constant annoyance of a neighbors yapping dog is real.

    • Redbud August 16, 2017 at 2:27 am

      Lastdays, you took the words right out of my mouth! I absolutely hate the small yappy dogs that just won’t shut up. They are hideous looking dogs too, and they make horrible pets. Now I will admit that striking the dog with pruning shears is a little over the top, BUT the dog did intrude on the owner’s property. I hate dog owners who just let their dogs roam around on other peoples property because they think their dog is just so cute, so they feel entitled to let it roam around wherever they please. Keep it in your house, keep it locked in your backyard, keep it on a leash! If you you can’t or won’t do this, then don’t get a dog in the first place. I also agree with Foxyheart’s comment, that it was the dog owner’s fault.

  • livebeyond August 15, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    It’s sure amazing how animals have more rights then us humans !!!!!!

  • comments August 16, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Lot of noise in this comment section–Lot of BLAH BLAH BLAH. The only real question: 1-Was this old fellow honest to goodness startled by a 2LB dog that was acting “viciously”? OR, 2-Did he maliciously and mean-spiritedly kill a non-aggressive dog that simply wandered onto his property? I tend to think it was the latter.

    You kill any pit bull and I will cheer you on. You kill a nice, non-aggressive dog like mine and you made an enemy for life, and I’m gonna get you back, and get you when you least expect it. Have respect for people’s animals, unless it’s a mean-a..* dog or a pitbull; then I wish it death, because that’s the right thing to do.
    *Ed. ellipses

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