A National Weather Service employee who police said beat a puppy to death and killed another five or six dogs pleaded not guilty Friday to aggravated animal cruelty.
Police said last November David Michael Matson was spotted covered in blood in a wooded area behind a McDonald's on Cumberland Street in Lebanon.
After initially claiming he'd fallen on a rock, police said Matson admitted to picking up a puppy, beating it to death with a tire iron and then throwing the animal against a tree. Police add Matson claimed to be angry he was passed over for a promotion at the National Weather Service and admitted to killing another five or six dogs. The report quotes Matson as asking officers if they ever wanted to hurt animals or maybe children.
For Friday's hearing, animal rescue workers from across Middle Tennessee gathered outside the Wilson County courthouse to support the deceased animals.
"He's an admitted puppy killer," said Amy Haverstick, executive director of New Leash on Life. "Somebody had to be here to speak up for the life of the puppy, and that's what we're here for."
"It just shows that he's a liar," added Caroline York, owner of an area Great Dane rescue. "With his moral standards, I mean, it doesn't surprise me. He killed a puppy with a tire iron."
Both Matson and his attorney declined to comment on the not guilty plea.
Matson's trial is set for Nov. 25.
He will remain on paid administrative leave at the National Weather Service until his case is resolved.
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