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Man pleads guilty in fatal dog beating

By jim Published: November 25, 2009

By Ed Meyer, Beacon Journal staff writer

-- Animal thrown against wall during Akron home break-in --

An 18-year-old Akron man pleaded guilty Tuesday to burglary, grand theft, cruelty to animals and other charges related to a break-in and burglary of a Morse Street home early this year, authorities said.

A five-pound dog, a Shih Tzu-Pekingese mix named Suzi, had to be euthanized after it was thrown against a wall and beaten when it began barking during the February break-in, prosecutors said.

Melvin Prince, who was listed in court records at an address in the 800 block of Hammel Street in Akron, will be sentenced at 1 p.m. Dec. 29 by Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter.

Prosecutors identified Lewis R. Napoleon Jr., 22, also of Akron, as an alleged accomplice. He is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 18 on similar charges.

Summit County court records filed Nov. 10 state that Prince ''initiated the break-in . . . and fatally injured the dog.''

Prince was a juvenile at the time of the crime but subsequently was bound over to adult court. His guilty plea to the most serious charge, a second-degree felony for burglary, carries a potential prison sentence of two to eight years.

Prosecutors accused the two men of ransacking the home of Paulette and Donald Hixenbaugh on the city's south side. A desktop computer, two shotguns, cash, jewelry, prescription drugs, a checkbook, collectible beer steins, liquor bottles and a pickup truck were reported stolen.

Paulette Hixenbaugh attended a previous hearing for Napoleon along with her daughter and declined to comment on the case, saying she would make a statement at sentencing.

According to Ohio law, injuring animals is a first-degree misdemeanor carrying a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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