Muskogee Pair Accused Of Shooting, Skinning Puppy

Monday, June 15th 2009, 5:34 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

MUSKOGEE, OK -- A man and a woman face charges in a shocking animal abuse case in Muskogee County.  The animal abuse investigation began with a Crime Stoppers tip to Muskogee Police.

It led to the arrest of 26-year-old Austin Mullins.  He is accused of taking a seven-week-old Jack Russell terrier puppy named, Joplin, to Hopewell Park east of Muskogee and shooting it up to ten times with a .22.

"I work cruelty to animal cases, dog dumping, but never seen anything of this nature," said Muskogee County Sheriff's Deputy George Roberson.

Mullins is now charged with animal cruelty.

As if shooting the little dog ten times wasn't bad enough, investigators say what happened next turns the stomach of even veteran law enforcement officers.

Investigators say the dog belonged to 23-year-old Krystal Lewis.  Deputies say once Joplin was killed, the dog was brought to her apartment, where she skinned it.

"What person would do something like this to a poor defenseless dog, that can't defend for himself?" said Muskogee County Sheriff's Deputy George Roberson.

Deputy Roberson says of the animal abuse cases he's investigated in the nine years he's been with the Muskogee County Sheriff's Office, this is the most shocking.

"This is the worst case of animal cruelty that I have investigated," said Muskogee County Sheriff's Deputy George Roberson.

Roberson says Lewis intended to skin the dog to make a belt out of the hide.

"This is very crazy, never heard of anything like this before.  This is the first time I've ever heard of someone taking a dog out shooting it, then skinning the dog.  Use the animal to make a belt out of," said Muskogee County Sheriff's Deputy George Roberson.

Lewis, who turned herself in on Sunday, is also charged with animal cruelty.

The judge in the case ordered a mental competency evaluation for both Mullins and Lewis.

A felony animal abuse conviction could mean up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.