Dog abuse defendant loses probation punishment because of new domestic violence case

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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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A Fresno pool cleaner who admitted to killing a customer's dog is now also charged with physically abusing a girlfriend.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno pool cleaner who admitted to killing a customer's dog is now also charged with physically abusing a girlfriend.

Aaron Cumpton almost got to leave his animal cruelty conviction in the past.

Surveillance video from October 2021 shows the pool maintenance worker corralling Artie the Yorkie in a customer's northwest Fresno backyard.

A little while later, he carried what appeared to be a lifeless Artie and dropped the dog in the trash.

Legal analyst Tony Capozzi says Cumpton looks calm and collected in the video, which concerns him.

"If you just killed someone, killed a dog, you'd think you'd be more emotional, more erratic in what was happening," Capozzi said. "He didn't show that at all. That bothers me."

RELATED: Fresno County man accused in two dog deaths won't face charges for second case

Prosecutors charged Cumpton with animal cruelty, and he pleaded no contest in July with a chance to go into behavioral health court instead of jail.

"And so it's basically a type of probation, but it's very centered on the mental health diagnosis and they really do everything in their power to try to address that so the person's life can change," said prosecutor Sydney Ricks.

Cumpton's attorney says he's attended anger management classes and performed well, but by the time Cumpton came to court Tuesday for a possible behavioral health assignment, he wasn't eligible anymore.

Prosecutors charged him with two new domestic violence charges for an incident in July.

Court documents show a girlfriend told police he took her phone away, then lifted her up and trapped her in a room.

She said he sat on her head and her chest when she tried to leave.

"What's scary in this case is he's alleged, accused of killing a dog -- and there was another allegation of killing another dog, but no charges were filed - and now we have a domestic violence while he's attending anger management," Capozzi said. "Something's not right here. The escalation from dog to now humans. It has to be dealt with.

Legal analysts say the new charges mean Cumpton is much less likely to end up in behavioral health court, but prosecutors say it's still possible.

"It depends on whether the mental health diagnosis, whether there's a nexus between the charge - in this case, domestic violence - and the behavioral health issue," Ricks said.

Cumpton is now due back in court in a couple weeks to enter a plea to the domestic violence charges.