Man indicted in dog road rage death

Friday, April 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(SAN JOSE, Calif.) - More than a year after a dog's death in a road rage incident sparked outrage among animal lovers, a man has been indicted in the case.

Andrew Burnett, 27, faces up to three years in prison if convicted on a charge of killing or abusing an animal. He was already jailed on unrelated charges.

The dog's owner, Sara McBurnett, said a truck driver became enraged when she got into a minor fender bender with him in February 2000.

When he approached her car, McBurnett said, she rolled down her window to apologize. That's when the man reached in and snatched her dog, Leo, threw him into oncoming traffic and fled.

``His movements, his body language. He was so aggressive. He had my dog before I could even react. It was like lightning,'' McBurnett said at the time.

The small white dog, a bichon frise that McBurnett called ``my best friend for 10 years,'' died later at a veterinary hospital.

McBurnett was inundated with condolence messages from dog lovers around the country, and $110,000 in reward money was collected.

Burnett has been in jail in Santa Clara County on unrelated charges since December. Heis accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of tools from his employer, Pacific Bell and lying to get out of a speeding ticket.

Though he declined to give details, assistant district attorney Al Weger said the investigation into the theft uncovered a lead in Leo's case. ``We think we have a very strong case,'' he said.

The dog's death ``touched everybody's heart,'' said Marcia Mayeda of the Humane Society of Santa Clara Valley. ``It was a defenseless little animal that was victimized in a very serious way.''

The jailed suspect could not be reached to comment and has no lawyer.