Guilty plea in deadly dog shooting

An East Moline man has struck a deal in the deadly shooting of his neighbor’s dog back in February.

Michael Coulter, 44, pleaded guilty Friday morning, October 4, 2013 to reckless conduct, a misdemeanor.

Last week, a Rock Island County jury failed to convict Coulter on two felony charges, aggravated cruelty to animals and reckless discharge of a firearm.

Coulter’s guilty plea allows him to avoid another trial and the possibility of a felony conviction.

“It’s a relief. I can also send a message to the community that you don’t run out in the neighborhood with a shotgun and I wanted to send that message to the community that I take responsibility for my action,” Coulter said.

“To suggest that Mr. Coulter’s action that night rose to felony conduct. I don’t agree with it. I never did,” said Dan Dalton, Coulter’s defense attorney, who negotiated the misdemeanor plea with prosecutors.

“I never wanted to shoot a dog. I’m a dog lover. That night I thought I was protecting my family,” he said of the February 13th shooting of his neighbor’s pit bull mix.

Coulter testified during his trial that the dog attacked his stepson and two little dogs, and he fired one shot from 140 feet and killed the animal, name Ycee (Icy). His stepson underwent a series of rabies shots after the incident.

“That’s nothing I wanted to do. It’s what I thought I had to do. In hindsight, I second guess myself. I relive that night every night,” Coulter said.

Coulter, a physical therapist’s assistant, says he paid a price before he ever went to trial.

“I lost my job before I ever even stepped foot in the courtroom,” he said.

The dog’s owner was not in court for Friday’s plea.

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