Yeomans charged with shooting horse and dog

Published 8:38 am Thursday, August 5, 2004

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Cassopolis Vigilant
CASSOPOLIS - His shaved head hanging down, Jason Alan Yeomans, 30, wept silently at a preliminary examination of the evidence Thursday afternoon, as witnesses described how a horse and dog had been found shot at his residence at 57803 O'Keefe St., Cassopolis, on July 14 of this year.
Judge Paul Maloney, of the Circuit Court of Berrien County, sat in for Judge Paul Deats at the hearing, as Yeomans was represented by Attorney Jim Tracey of Berrien County.
Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz first called to the stand one of the two Cass County Deputies who went to the 12:39 a.m. 911 call about a house fire.
Deputy Paul K. McGowan, who is being called to Iraq and may miss the case should it go to trial, told of finding Yeomans sitting on the ground by the driveway to the house drinking a beer, as his house was engulfed behind him.
Seeing blood on the front and back of the man's pants and the soles of his shoes, and burns on his neck and arms, along with burnt hair on his head and beard, McGowan said he called for the Cass Ambulance, for the injuries.
Smelling accelerants on the man's clothing and continuing to investigate a trail of blood, McGowan didn't know what he would find, nor could Yeoman tell him where his wife Jenny was, nor reach her on his phone.
McGowan pointed to a crude map drawn by Fitz indicating the various buildings on the property, set on a hill in La Grange Township, about three miles north of the Village of Cassopolis, as he searched the grounds.
Seeing blood by the garage, and inside open doors, McGowan said he opened one door which was shut, and a dog ran out - covered in blood.
While a partner was reading Yeomans his rights and handcuffed him, McGowan continued his search of the garage, discovering a burnt wall and lawn mower, a 410 shotgun on a couch and more blood splatters.
Later in the garage, McGowan found a letter addressed to Yeoman's from his wife on a table, a lawn chair, and more beer cans.
In the big barn he found a spent 410 cartridge and more blood in front of two stalls. Using a flashlight he saw blood smeared on all four of the stall walls, the cement floor and even on the ceiling.
There he found Yeoman's wife's horse, dead, after being shot in the head. A large pillow and more blood were in another stall.
Later, a necklace, wedding band and watch were found near the tree were Yeomans had been sitting, along with matches scattered around.
Yeomans told McGowan only two cats had been in the house, McGowan said. Fitz asked Judge Maloney to add four more counts to the five Yeomans was already facing, for house arson, animal killing and torturing and felony firearms.
Dr. Frank Butts of Dowagiac Animal Hospital showed x rays of the horse and dog, with 70 to 88 lead pellets each in their heads, taken after the dog was put down by Pat Fetherston of Animal Control.
Both suffered, Butts said, the horse possibly for five minutes while it was "drowning in its own blood," and the dog longer, before it was euthanized. The two cats were found dead in the burned dwelling.
The judge would not increase Yeoman's $50,000 bond, as requested by Fitz, but he added the defendant was to have no contact with his wife, live with his parents and be on a 24-hour curfew, only allowed to go to work, see his counselor, or AA meetings.