Man accused of killing Yorkie pleads not guilty, 2nd animal death remains under investigation

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The man who Fresno Police say confessed to killing a dog while doing pool maintenance at a Northwest Fresno home was in court today.

Aaron Cumpton made his first court appearance pleading not guilty to a felony charge of animal cruelty.

Since the first incident, a second incident came to light.

Clovis Police launched an investigation which is now under review by the Fresno County District Attorney's Office.

"Still very difficult and painful, nothing has changed there," said Kim Garcia.

She said she still struggles with the loss of her dog Artie.

The man accused of killing Artie, Aaron Cumpton, pleaded not guilty to a felony animal cruelty charge Thursday afternoon.

On October 26, 2021, surveillance video caught Cumpton visiting Garcia's Northwest Fresno home for pool maintenance.

After Artie escaped and Cumpton returned him to the backyard, a short time later he emerged with, what appeared to be, a lifeless Artie and put him in the trash can.

Garcia says she never imagined something like that would happen to her pet.

"We never thought twice about the fact that we have these doggie doors that give our dogs access to the side yard where these people could have access to them," said Garcia.

Fresno Police say Cumpton admitted to killing Artie during questioning.

Cumpton's attorney told the judge shortly after the incident Cumpton enrolled in anger management.

"He's been in counseling for the last -- 23 times already and he's continuing to do so for helping with his anger issue, emotional anger issue, maybe depression issue," said Attorney Curtis Sok.

But Cumpton could face another animal cruelty charge.

It was Cumpton's arrest that led Ashley Stewart's family to reach out to Kim Garcia and the Clovis Police Department.

Stewart says her mother was out of town and left her dog, Dutchess, with a close family friend, and the friend's boyfriend, Aaron Cumpton.

She said she was working on October 2, 2021 when her mom called and said Dutchess was dead.

"Aaron had stepped on Dutchess getting out of the shower," Stewart remembered her mother telling her.

Stewart didn't think it was possible and took Dutchess' body to the vet and had the vet examine her.

Stewart said the vet had suspicions the injuries weren't accidental, but Stewart's mother didn't have reason to believe it was done intentionally.

"She was like 'No, this was an accident. They would never do this.'" said Stewart.

But once the family saw Cumpton was arrested for the death of another dog, Artie, they decided to call Clovis Police which launched an investigation.

Clovis police recommended Cumpton be charged with one count of felony charge of animal cruelty and turned the case over to the district attorney's office.

It remains under review.

Stewart and Garcia hope the district attorney will eventually decide to file charges.

"He needs help and he needs to face his consequences," Stewart said.

Cumpton remains out of custody, but is required to return to court on March 4.

In the meantime, the judge said he cannot own or keep any animals and cannot be unsupervised around anyones household pets.
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