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Not guilty plea in dog’s death

Published: Friday, April 4, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, April 4, 2014 9:29 a.m. CST
Joseph R. Nelson

MORRISON – A Rock Falls man accused of causing the death of a pit bull pleaded not guilty to felony animal cruelty Thursday in Whiteside County Court.

Joseph R. Nelson, 37, of Rock Falls, was arrested a week ago today. He still was in jail Thursday on $50,000 bond. A tentative trial date of May 20 was set, and Nelson has a pretrial conference April 30. A public defender has been appointed.

If convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals, Nelson faces 1 to 3 years in prison.

A necropsy was performed Monday on the adult male pit bull, found March 25 in a cage in the basement of a Rock Falls home Whiteside County Sheriff’s investigators say Nelson recently vacated. The dog, the carcass of which weighed 25 pounds, appears to have died of dehydration or starvation, they said.

Results were sent to a state lab to try to determine the time and exact cause of death.

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