Roy Castrun Burnett Jr. of Cheyenne is undergoing an outpatient examination in Laramie District Court on Monday afternoon at the request of his attorney Ross McKelvey.
Assistant District Attorney Rachel Berkness had no objection to the request, and the assessment was ordered by Laramie County District Judge Thomas Campbell.
The order removes Burnett’s case from the court’s trial schedule and postpones it indefinitely until a report is completed by a designated medical expert.
McKelvey said during the trial that he was having trouble communicating with Burnett and asked him to set up a status hearing that is imperative to appear. Burnett then reached out to McKelvey and has been in contact with him ever since, McKelvey said, but a face-to-face meeting Monday morning with Burnett gave him “some concerns about going ahead with the case.”
After pleading not guilty, Burnett’s trial was originally scheduled for April 12, but was later rolled back to May 10 as delays in criminal proceedings related to the COVID-19 pandemic continued.
The two dogs Karma and Kru have been in the care of the Cheyenne Animal Shelter since October. Sue Castaneda, CEO of the shelter, said her biggest concern right now is the time the dogs had to spend at the shelter waiting in the balance for the case to be decided.
“The longer you stay, the less adaptable you will be and they are very doubtful right now,” Castaneda said. “We’re going through two or three bailouts to see if anyone would take them. But really, if Roy doesn’t give up on her, there’s nothing I can do. “
Now that the trial is being postponed indefinitely, Castaneda said the shelter will press for a trial to obtain custody of the dogs.
When Karma and Kru were first cared for, the shelter raised $ 3,000 online, Castaneda said. The money was used to save the leg of one of Karma and Kru’s puppies who were confiscated by Animal Control in November.
On October 10th at 1:21 pm, the manager of a mobile home park at 316 Central Ave. the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department that court documents said he discovered two dogs “who appeared to be extremely malnourished.”
Cheyenne police officers responded to the scene later that afternoon. After repeated attempts to contact Burnett, Cheyenne Fire Rescue was called to open the door of the mobile home and pet control was asked for help with the dogs. When the door opened, both dogs appeared and tried to get outside, and an officer pulled both leashes on.
Three to four weeks before the dogs were discovered, a neighbor said she ran into Burnett out shopping and expressed concern that the dogs were obviously losing weight. She said Burnett had assured her they were fine.
After they were confiscated on October 10th, the dogs were immediately looked after at the shelter. Medical exams and the rate at which the dogs regained weight in the days that followed showed that there were no underlying medical conditions that contributed to the dogs’ dehydration and hunger, a veterinarian said.
According to the animal shelter, both dogs had a history of being picked up for “dog at large”. Two previous pickups in May and October 2019 showed in both healthy weights and body conditions.
However, on October 10, Karma the bitch weighed 24.4 pounds, less than half the expected 52 pounds for a dog like her. Kru the male dog weighed 36.3 pounds versus an average weight of 57 pounds for dogs like him. Both belong to a French mastiff breed known as the Dogue de Bordeaux.
When Burnett was contacted at his ex-wife’s home on October 16, he told an animal control officer that he believed someone tried to poison the dogs. He said he saw them two weeks ago and “they didn’t look like that.” He said someone named “India” was responsible for the dogs. Since Burnett could not provide India’s last name or contact information, the animal control officer cited him for two animal cruelty offenses.
At a meeting with the animal control officer on October 21, Burnett re-confirmed that someone may have tried to poison the dogs. He said he loved the dogs and they were like his children. He said he had a job that required him to leave the state for two weeks at a time and paid India several times to look after the dogs. Burnett then provided a physical description of India.
Records for the business Burnett worked for could not be found. He was also unable to give the officer any information about the bank that his payments to India allegedly went through.
Later that day, the animal control officer met with Burnett’s ex-wife at her workplace. The woman said the last time she saw the dogs was on Sept. 23 and petted the dogs “by taking a break in one of the windows” in the mobile home, which prevented them from seeing their bodies. She said Burnett took a large bag of dog food from home that day, but she didn’t remember going to the mobile home.
When asked if she knew anyone named “India”, the woman said she gave India $ 150 in cash in April to look after the dogs and this was the only time she had met with him . The woman said she had no other information about India, but he allegedly lived at the Stage Coach Motel.
When the animal control officer at the motel inquired about India, the manager and several local residents said they had never seen anyone who matched his description. The mobile home park manager also said India was never based there, according to his records.
In addition to his November 7th arrest on the two animal cruelty charges, Burnett was arrested on November 19th by the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department for non-compliance with liability terms, preventing him from contacting animals. According to court records, a Laramie County animal control officer received a call on November 14th that three pups had been left in the cold at Burnett’s ex-wife’s home. The officer went home and saw the pups outside. Then he contacted Burnett, who was present, and told him the pups couldn’t be left out in the cold.
According to court records, Burnett was released on bail on November 20th.
A second state petition to revoke Burnett’s bail was filed on Jan. 14. He said he was again in possession of dogs on December 22nd. According to an affidavit, a shopkeeper near Burnett’s home contacted animal control and reported an employee of his had seen a dog in a vehicle that Burnett drives frequently.
On March 10, a condition was added to Burnett’s bond that he be not within 25 feet of a dog with the exception of a police dog.
Hannah Black is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s criminal justice reporter. She can be reached at email@example.com or 307-633-3128. Follow her on Twitter at @hannahcblack.