SAN ANTONIO -- A jury of 8 men and four women examined photos of a K-9 officer, discovered dead in the back of a sheriff's vehicle as the trial of the dog's former partner continued in district court.
The Bexar County Sheriff's Offfice fired officer Ebony Jones after the incident, but Jones faces felony animal cruelty charges.
Prosecutors said the summer heat in June of 2010 had taken its toll on Duke, a K-9 officer that a necropsy showed died of heat exhaustion.
Jones said the dog had been left in a car for only 15 minutes with the air conditioner on. The sheriff's office originally told KENS 5 the dog was chronically ill, and was on the way to visit a veterinarian.
Animal Care Services cruelty investigator took the stand Tuesday to talk about the 5-year old yellow Labrador's condition.
The photos that were introduced into evidence showed clumps of dog hair, scattered about the dog kennel in the vehicle. The ACS investigator said there were signs on Duke's skin of heat exhaustion, fecal matter stuck in the dog's coat, and a rusty choke collar around his neck that had been in place long enough to stain the dog's fur.
The cruelty case had been lingering the court system for years, until another deadly incident in July of 2012 prompted changes in K-9 policies at BCSO.
In that separate case, two Belgian Malinois ended up succumbing to the heat in deputy Steve Benoy’s SUV when he left the dogs unattended overnight.
Back in the 144th District Court, Ebony Jones faces possible prison time if convicted.
ACS investigators told the jury that even after being placed on ice awaiting a necropsy, Duke's internal body temperature still registered 107 degrees.