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St. Louis woman admits drowning, abusing puppy on Marine base in California

By ROBERT PATRICK | St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Published: August 28, 2018

ST. LOUIS (Tribune News Service) — A woman from St. Louis pleaded guilty to a felony animal cruelty charge in federal court Tuesday and admitted abusing and drowning a puppy on a U.S. Marine Corps base in California.

Brittney Shanae Dyson admitted dunking Bella in a bucket of water, bleach and Pine-Sol cleaner on June 16, 2016, in a house on Camp Pendleton in Oceanside.

The Dachshund-terrier mix was about 6 months old and weighed less than 20 pounds, Dyson's plea says, and struggled frantically, clawing at the sides of the bucket.

A necropsy the next day found evidence that Bella's leg had been fractured by blunt force within three weeks of her death, and Dyson admitted "on occasion" striking the dog "with great force."

Dyson, now 25, was arrested in St. Louis in December and has been free on a bond of $10,000 since that time. She has also not been allowed to own pets or live in a home with pets.

Defense lawyer Kevin Curran said in court Tuesday that no recommended federal sentencing guidelines cover the crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rea said that the plea agreement, struck with prosecutors in California, requires prosecutors to ask for 366 days in prison. Curran and Dyson will ask for less.

Curran said that Dyson was in the Marine Corps reserves at the time. He called it a "one-time, horrific act," adding, "She is remorseful and has been working through counseling and to make whatever amends she has to do for what she did and get her life back on track."

He said Dyson is "paying the price in more ways than one.” Curran said Dyson has gone through a divorce since Bella's death and has had no in-person contact with her child since her arrest.

Dyson also has a pending felony stealing charge in St. Louis County after she was accused of executing fraudulent refund transactions worth $1,025 at the Children's Place store at the South County Center, court records show.

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