Local News

Thursday, Feb 28 2013 11:33 AM

Detentions deputy under suspicion of poisoning dog

BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

A Kern County sheriff's detentions deputy charged with assaulting and threatening to kill his wife is now under investigation for the poisoning of her dog.

A DNA swab has been taken from James Ronald Tackitt Jr. to determine if it matches blood found in the backyard of the Wasco residence where his wife is currently living, according to a search warrant filed in Kern County Superior Court.

The wife called authorities to report that on Feb. 1 she found her German shepherd stumbling in the backyard and foaming at the mouth, the search warrant said. She took the dog to a veterinary clinic and was told the dog had been poisoned with pesticides.

The dog was euthanized.

Tackitt, 30, was questioned and admitted driving by his wife's current residence the night before the dog was poisoned, the search warrant said. His brother was with him, and both denied poisoning the dog.

The search warrant said investigators found blood on the side of a metal shed near the backyard fence. They believe whoever poisoned the dog was either bitten by the animal or was injured while jumping the fence.

Tackitt's attorney, Mary McGrath, said her client has cooperated fully with the investigation and they are denying all allegations.

"It's kind of a he-said, she-said issue at this point," McGrath said.

Co-counsel Fred Gagliardini said investigators took pictures of Tackitt's body, and no injuries were found.

He said Tackitt has complied with a protective order. Gagliardini said some of the wife's allegations don't add up. For instance, he said, Tackitt has a text message sent by his wife after the alleged hostage incident telling him that she was going shopping with her girlfriends and asking him if that was OK.

Tackitt's wife also reported receiving a call from another Kern County Sheriff's Office employee who, she said, tried to convince her to drop the charges against Tackitt. The search warrant said Tackitt admitted asking the employee to call his wife, but only did so to try to get his property back.

McGrath said Tackitt has worked through her, Gagliardini and law enforcement to retrieve some of his belongings and hasn't broken any court orders to do so.

DNA swabs were also taken from the other sheriff's office employee and Tackitt's brother.

The assault charges against Tackitt stem from a Jan. 30 arrest in which his wife said they had been arguing when Tackitt retrieved a gun, loaded it and forced her into a closet, according to Bakersfield police. Tackitt ordered her to kneel on the ground and then put the gun to the back of her head, repeatedly threatening to shoot her and then himself, police said.

Police said the wife was able to talk Tackitt into letting her leave the house with her child. Neither were harmed.

"If these allegations turn out to be true, he deserves to be punished," Gagliardini said. "But on the flip side, if she's lying, then something deserves to happen to her."

Tackitt's next court hearing is scheduled for April 10. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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