DEDHAM, Mass. – The trial of a Massachusetts man charged with torturing a dog so severely that it had to be euthanized started Tuesday with jury selection — but without the expected protests from animal rights advocates.
Radoslaw Czerkawski faces 11 counts of animal cruelty at his trial in Norfolk County Superior Court in Dedham in a case that drew national attention and sparked calls for tougher penalties for animal abusers.
The year-old pit female bull mix was found in a Quincy park in 2013 with fractures, a stab wound and a split tongue. The starving dog that came to be known as Puppy Doe had to be euthanized.
Czerkawski has suggested that kids he saw drinking in a park were responsible for the abuse, while a defense attorney previously questioned some of the evidence in the case.
The trial initially was scheduled to start in July, but was delayed by a prosecutor's emergency eye surgery and Czerkawski's own health problems.
The case drew so much attention that animal rights advocates had promised to hold protests outside court during the trial. That prompted the judge to bar protests within 500 feet of the courthouse and to ban anyone from wearing T-shirts, buttons or anything else that refers to the case in court.
Deanna Terminiello, a member of a 900-member organization called Pawsitivley Puppy Doe, told WCVB-TV that a planned protest scheduled for Tuesday was called off.
"We don't want to cause any problems. We do want to follow the judge's orders. We don't want to potentially cause a mistrial in this case," she said.
Czerkawski, a Polish national, already is serving prison time for two unrelated larceny convictions, including one for stealing $130,000 from a 95-year-old woman has was hired to care for.