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Fairfield Man Charged With Drowning Dog Found Not Guilty Of Animal Cruelty

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FAIRFIELD (CBS SF) — A Solano County jury on Thursday acquitted a Fairfield man who had been charged with felony animal cruelty for drowning his dog last August.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours on the third day of the trial before acquitting Bryan Cavanah, 21, who was charged with drowning a brown, female pit bull in a pond at 100 Kentucky St. outside Fairfield City Hall on Aug. 12, Deputy District Attorney Mary Nguyen said.

Police said Cavanah held the dog’s head in the water repeatedly until it stopped coming up. The dog had a chain around its neck and belonged to Cavanah’s father, police said.

When officers arrived, Cavanah admitted killing the dog but said he didn’t know why he did it, police said.

Cavanah’s defense attorney, Deputy Public Defender Rachel Julagay, told the jury her client has suffered from seizures since childhood that render him unaware of his behavior.

Defense witness Dr. Paul Garcia of the University of California at San Francisco’s Epilepsy Center testified Cavanah suffers from focal epilepsy in one part of his brain, Julagay said.

Garcia testified Cavanah could have drowned the dog during an “unconscious state” that enabled him to move physically but not be conscious of his actions, Julagay said.

Julagay said three defense witnesses testified Cavanah had a positive and caring relationship with the dog and took it to parks.

Nguyen said this afternoon that she acknowledged during the trial that Cavanah suffered seizures, but she argued he wasn’t having one at the time of the offense.

Cavanah was held without bail in Solano County Jail since the drowning because of a violation of probation for an assault he pleaded guilty to when he was 18, Julagay said.

Solano County Superior Court Judge Peter Foor ordered Cavanah released from jail after the trial ended Thursday.

© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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