Karthaus man appeals weapons conviction tied to dog shooting

A Karthaus man who is facing 5-10 years in prison for a weapons violation in connection with the shooting of his dog is asking for a new trial and bail pending his appeal.

Barry Grove, 58, was sentenced last month after being found guilty in a non-jury trial of illegal possession of a firearm. His attorney, Joseph Amendola, disputes the idea that his client did anything wrong in possessing the Winchester 300 magnum rifle he used to shoot his dog.

Grove wasn’t to possess the weapon because he had a 1978 conviction for burglary, according to court documents. Amendola maintains that the original conviction was actually for criminal trespass. Both burglary and criminal trespass are listed as offenses that prohibit people from owning firearms under Pennsylvania law.

But a conviction for criminal trespass, Amendola says, did not prohibit gun ownership in 1978. That was added by the legislature about 15 years later.

No one told Grove, Amendola contends, even though Grove says that in other run-ins with the law, including driving under the influence, probation officers have been to his home and were aware that he possessed the weapons.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller says those assertions cannot be proved.

“His trial is over on these issues, and sometimes people simply cannot accept responsibility for what they have done,” she said.

Parks Miller maintains that Grove has changed his story, sometimes saying he knew he was not allowed to possess guns or couldn’t buy guns, or questioning whether he could own rifles or shotguns but not handguns.

Amendola says those arguments were not heard adequately at trial, which is the basis for his appeal of Judge Bradley P. Lunsford’s ruling.

“We clearly always intended to file an appeal,” he said. He expects an answer on his request for a new trial to take at least six months to a year.

Amendola is also seeking to have his client freed on bail pending the appeal, claiming his client has medical issues that need attention.

Parks Miller also opposes this.

“The court considered that he was drinking before he used a deadly weapon over a trivial matter on a helpless pet, that he had at least four prior convictions, three prior DUIs, and shot his guns off randomly, scaring neighbors,” she said. “Testimony was received that he previously threatened a neighbor with a firearm after drinking.

“The judge basically said he was not going to grant bail pending appeal due to safety concerns for the community. Persons convicted of felonies are not entitled to bail pending appeal.”

Amendola hinted at some bias in Parks Miller’s office concerning Grove’s case.

“I think people need to know what the prosecution’s doing in this case,” Amendola said.

The DA, who says she is passionate about defending animals and children who cannot speak for themselves, says the case is not about any prejudice on her part, but strictly about the facts.

“He had 19 years to conform his behavior before he brutally shot his pet in close proximity to a neighbor’s home and dumped it in a field to suffer,” she said.

Grove will be sentenced on his guilty plea on animal cruelty charges on March 14.