Jury Finds Former Animal Shelter Manager McGill Not Guilty of Letting Cat Die in Wall

Tyrone McGill at Shelter.jpg
After several hours of deliberation, a jury returned a verdict of not guilty in the felony animal cruelty trial of Tyrone McGill, the former animal shelter manager indicted in August 2010 following a May '10 incident at the Dallas animal shelter involving a cat trapped behind a wall that wasn't freed until long after it had died. Upon hearing the verdict, the 61-year-old McGill, a slight man, removed his round glasses and sank into his seat, where he rocked back and forth, seeming to sob silently. He then sat for a long moment at the table, his eyes shaded with his hand. When he finally recovered enough to stand, he thanked the judge and hugged his family members before leaving the courtroom.

Out in the hallway, McGill told a small crowd of reporters, "I thank God, my team, family and my friends." He said that his time on leave had been "frustrating," adding, "I'm not ready for retirement." Although he wants to return to work for the city of Dallas, which has been paying him since putting him on administrative leave last year, where he'll land is "not up to me." At the moment, he's still employed in code compliance, the department of which Animal Services is a division.

During closing arguments this morning, the prosecution never argued that McGill had deliberately tortured the cat. Rather, attorneys said he took little action to rescue the animal himself, and prevented his employees from cutting a hole in the wall to remove the cat, both of which constituted torture in their "reckless disregard" for the animal's well-being.

"He's not guilty because he allowed it to happen," Assistant District Attorney David Alex told the jury. "He's guilty because he prevented [the cat from being rescued]. ... There was a culture of fear and intimidation going on at that shelter."

"I know you've seen some pictures that are disgusting," ADA Brandon Birmingham told the jury, referring to pictures of the cat's rotting corpse that were briefly shown during the first day of the trial. "But there's only one way to show you what the reckless conduct of Mr. McGill did." The responsibility for the cat's death was McGill's, Birmingham said. "If he's not responsible, nobody is." It didn't matter whether the cat had been someone's pet or a feral creature, he said (it was never established in the trial if the cat in fact belonged to anyone). "That poor cat in the wall is an animal. ... Feral cats deserve protection too."

But defense attorney Anthony Lyons argued that prosecutors had failed on all counts to prove their case. "They haven't proved how that cat died," he told the jury. "What if the cat died from normal causes?" For that matter, he continued, "Where is the cat? This is a criminal case. That cat was evidence. Where is the cat?" He argued that an animal cruelty officer, one of the prosecution's central witnesses, had never even talked to McGill to see what the manager had done to rescue the cat.

Lyons referred the jury back to the group of witnesses he produced yesterday, which included both Equipment and Building Services staffers and shelter staff, who said they had helped McGill look for the cat, set traps, lift ceiling tiles and throw food in an attempt to rescue the cat.

"I brought you every person who did something with this man to get that cat out of the wall," Lyons said. "They're not giving him credit for nothing he did, and he did something every day."

"That's an innocent man," Lyons said, gesturing at his client, shortly before he concluded. "He did too much to be sitting here."
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43 comments
John Terrell
John Terrell

I cannot believe he has been paid this entire time. he was arrested over a year ago. But please do not let him go back to work, especially as the city manager. Mark Cooper has made amazing strides here over the past year. With Mr. Mcgill in charge it was as bad as Garland. I have seen many emails where Mr Cooper reaches out to rescue groups to save an injured animal because he will not let it suffer. 

Denton
Denton

That's an injustice. Tyrone McGill is responsible for this cat's death. If they "did everything they could" then why didn't they cut a hole in the wall for the cat to come out? People make me sick! That poor cat died a slow death due to this POS Tyrone McGill.

Felix
Felix

This verdict is a criminal disgrace. I'd lke to see this guy and all his new pals on the jury walled up and left to die like this cat.

BTS
BTS

So the ASSHOLE got off. Dallas is full of these types. I seem them everyday at work. They like to use the line "What it is, what it is". All they want to do come to work not do much and get their paycheck. The man is a god damm coward, afraid that putting a hole in the wall might piss off someone higher up. I sure hope someone else who cares for animals is running the place now. I know the perfect city job for him, garbage collector.

Thelawwon
Thelawwon

It is a sad day in Dallas when the previous commenters on this story have so little faith in the jury that heard this case.  Unlike the commenters, the jury heard all the evidence and arguments made in the case.  Until this story, the Observer hadn't told us that anyone had testified for the defense besides McGill himself.  I think the DMN's coverage was similarly one-sided. I suspect the jury wondered why only McGill was indicted and nobody else was.  Although it is very sad that the cat died the way that it did, I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the apparently hard-working jury. 

Rgiroux
Rgiroux

This decision HAS to be appealed folks! Come on already! What about the judge in this case; cannot judges overrule ridiculous sentences?

dg
dg

I'd like to stick McGill behind a wall and forget HIM.

Paul
Paul

Let's see ... they lifted ceiling tiles, set traps and what happened ... nothing ...

They could hear the cat scratching in the wall but could not cut an opening in the wall until the cat was dead and stinkin' up the joint.  The sound must have been incredible since the cat wore down its claws trying to get out.

How did they know where to cut the opening in the wall to remove the dead cat?

It is not as if they had to make multiple openings in the wall to find the corpse.

This is a sad, sad day for the City of Dallas and the citizens of Dallas.

According to the Judeo-Christian tenets, when God gave man dominion over the animals that was as a wise steward, not as a sadist.

This is a classic case where an act of ommission is just as odious as an act of commission.

Tim76182
Tim76182

Cats taste like chicken...

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

"He did too much to be sitting here."

Wasn't he there because he didn't do enough?

Citizen L
Citizen L

Dallas County jurors are loathe to convict people. The prosecutors worked hard in this case, but they can't force 12 people to make the right decision.  In the age of CSI, juries too often want the impossible.

Mike
Mike

You can forget about any outside support for the shelter as long as he has any role in it.  We have animals that need help all over this area.  If Dallas City is completely inept, I'm sure the ones in Irving and Richardson and Duncanville are just as deserving. 

It shows a lot about the quality of our crack prosecutors.  People wonder why others roll their eyes when people talk about things getting better in Dallas City.

MattL1
MattL1

I know it's cruel, but I can't help but think of the "Always Sunny" episode with Dee's cat trapped in the wall.  

Let's hope he learns from this.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Another quality prosecution brought to you by Craig Watkins.

chardunk
chardunk

When the animal services director doesn't give a damn about a living, breathing animal crying and clawing for days and days, you have to know there is a real problem with the system. And when a jury can't convict this murderous torturer that is even sadder.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Wow, im not shocked at the outcome, i've said it for years people around here dont care about helpless animals and its been proven by a jury of mouthbreathers, which im guessing a few are from Mr. McGills neck of the woods. Congrats Dallas, you had the chance to have a shining moment and you screwed it up again..

Lee
Lee

Anybody else read his statement as a threat?

Kmitchell124
Kmitchell124

Wow, thats an insult to garbage collectors, who in my experience, are at least decent people working an unimaginable job, and not making 60,000/yr. Mr. McGill, you are a SERIOUS piece of crap. Hell, that may be an insult to pieces of crap to compare them to you.

Deacon Blues
Deacon Blues

The first thing he can pick up as a garbage collector is your brain and your sense of objectivity, as it appears you have little use for these critical evidences of humanity.

cp
cp

Um, I guess you missed this paragraph:

"Lyons referred the jury back to the group of witnesses he produced yesterday, which included both Equipment and Building Services staffers and shelter staff, who said they had helped McGill look for the cat, set traps, lift ceiling tiles and throw food in an attempt to rescue the cat."

Mike
Mike

Only to find someone not guilty. The word of the jury, hower stupid, is the law of the land. I just thi k there is a group of people in this city that would never jail a man for hurting an animal. They just do not care. I had a conversation with someone that said her family over the years just abandoned pets when they got tired of them. She was not a cruel person. It was just people are people and animals are lower.

Animalrightstoday
Animalrightstoday

So his defense attorneys said...."How did the cat die anyway?"  um, the cat died being trapped in a wall, left to die without food or water.  

"He did too much to be sitting here." 

You are so right, he didn't do anything.  NOTHING.  I pray that DFW Animal Rescue is right- that someone has taken over with some decency and skill.

Paul
Paul

Yeah, where was the DNA evidence and the thermal profile image of the cat in the wall?

Why didn't they use a liquid nitrogen cooled Forward Looking Infrared Detector?

Not to forget the backscatter neutron analysis or the gas chromatograph with the Model RF-17D flame ionization detector.

Besides, they probably tried looking for the cat with the room lights off while using little tiny flashlights.

DallasWatcher
DallasWatcher

With a DA who cares more about criminals than human victims, you can expect his staff to knock themselves out over a cat.

DFWAnimalRescue
DFWAnimalRescue

He will have no role in Animal Services.  There is no place for him.  We have a new shelter manager who has decades of experience (as opposed to McGill) and truly cares about the animals. She helped make Richmond, VA, a no-kill city and can do the same thing here. 

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

At least the Great Southwest Animal Shelter(Duncanville/Cedar Hill/Desoto) has the common decency to make sure their animals dont get loose and if they do to quickly catch them...

Animalrightstoday
Animalrightstoday

We've learned something from this anyway- there's no justice for animals.

Lee
Lee

David Alex prosecuted this case.

Rgiroux
Rgiroux

These people at the city should be pursued in civil court as well.

Animalrightstoday
Animalrightstoday

I am heartbroken at this verdict.  Even in the most chaotic circumstances, somebody could get a rescue group in there to save an animal in need.  It takes an email, a phone call, nothing much.  So sad for the City of Dallas today.

Daily Reader
Daily Reader

Nah, sounds to me like he's just saying "up yours, I've still got a job and it's with the people who tried to get me fired."

Mike
Mike

Leaving an animal screaming in the wall was the evidence of his humanity. That is the kind of male (I cannot dignify him with the word man) he is.

Cat Ballew
Cat Ballew

its good with soy sauce and some fresh ginger and scallions....

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Im curious if he'll be bumped down to dog catcher..because we all know if he is, he'll at least have a leg up on Terrell Bolton in the City Of Dallas food chain...

rke
rke

That's the Tri-Cities Animal Shelter and Adoption Center.  Good folks.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I understand Watkins, personally, did not prosecute the case; the concern I was raising is whether or not the ability to successfully prosecute cases in Watkins' office has been compromised by all the recent political turmoil, firings, resignations, etc.

David Alex has been there quite awhile, I believe and seems pretty decent.  The question would be whether he might be stretched too thin.  Any sense for whether that might have been an issue in this case?

Denton
Denton

You are correct Mike. Tyrone McGill is not a "man" or a male but a coward and a POS. He is also a liar and doesn't care if animals die in a cruel way. To me, he is a piece of crap.

james
james

it's too bad there wasn't this much of an outpouring of compassion when  human beings die in police custody. oftentimes they're as bad about finger pointing and blame gaming as these dog catchers.

Denton
Denton

You are idiots Cat Ballew and Tim. Get a life.

Mike
Mike

It was likely over in jury selection. If you exclude anyone that owned a pet or had any feelings on the case, what group of the lumpen proles do you think you'll find in that jury?

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