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Police accuse man of hitting dog in head with hammer, fracturing her skull


A man is in jail after being accused of using a hammer to crack the skull of a 2-year-old pit bull named Karma in December, an arrest affidavit said.

Richard James Mizell, 52, was booked into the Travis County Jail around 1 a.m. on a charge of cruelty to non-livestock animals, jail records show.

The incident happened on Dec. 3 after Mizell pulled up to a house and found Karma, who belonged to his sister, tethered in the backyard, the affidavit said.

Mizell’s sister told police she could hear him yelling that Karma did not belong there, and that he was going to kill the dog.

The sister told police she looked out of a window and saw Mizell standing at the edge of the tether’s range swinging the hammer and taunting the dog, according to the affidavit.

When Karma came up on her hind legs to reach Mizell, he smashed the bell of the hammer into her head, the affidavit said.

When police arrived, Mizell told them that Karma attacked him when he was walking to the house.

“Richard claimed he turned to run away from Karma and Karma bit him on the calf and dragged him to the ground,” the affidavit said.

Mizell also told investigators Karma jumped on his chest and was trying to grab him by the face and throat, according to the report.

Austin-Travis County EMS medics checked Mizell out, but found no trace of injuries, the affidavit said, adding that Karma was friendly and docile with all of the officers who arrived at the scene and showed no signs of aggression.

Mizell’s sister surrendered Karma to authorities because she could not afford medical care for the dog.

A veterinarian later confirmed that Karma’s skull was fractured, and that she had hemorrhaging in both of her eyes.

The affidavit said another veterinarian told police that Mizell’s story didn’t make sense because Mizell would have had significant injuries if Karma had attacked him as he said she did.

Mizell is currently being held with bail set at $15,000.

The affidavit said Mizell has been identified by Austin police as a “Top Offender” with 32 total arrests in Austin and 21 convictions for crimes including multiple assaults, drug manufacture and possession, resisting arrest and carrying prohibited weapons.


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