Following the fatal shooting of his neighbor's 9-month-old teacup Chihuahua puppy, a Tabiona city councilman who resigned his office Tuesday appeared in court Thursday on two criminal charges.
Rickey Evin Wilberg, 58, is charged in Duchesne's 8th District Court with one count each of torture of a companion animal, a third-degree felony, and intoxication, a class C misdemeanor.
The animal torture charge is punishable by up to five years in prison. The intoxication count carries the potential for up to three months in jail.
Wilberg was arrested May 13 after he admitted to police he had killed his next-door neighbor's dog with a .22-caliber rifle because of its barking. Wilberg, who is free after posting $5,190 bail, was an elected town councilman for about six years, according to Mayor Ronnie Giles.
Giles said Thursday that Wilberg resigned because he didn't want to involve the entire town in a dispute between two neighbors. And while Giles doesn't agree with what Wilberg allegedly did, he said he felt bad about the resignation.
"He is good for this town," Giles said, noting that Wilberg was a volunteer firefighter and tended a garden he shared with the whole town.
Puppy owners Peggy and Robert Redmiles, whose three-quarter acre lot shares a fence line with Wilberg's land, said the dog was probably barking because Wilberg was looking through the fence into their property, as he often did.
They acknowledged Wilberg who owns five dachshunds had complained about the barking. But Peggy Redmiles said he also complained about her chicken coop, overwatering her garden and the noises her swimming pool made. To try to keep the peace, she said, they have gotten rid of the chickens and garden, and turn the pool off at night.
The Redmiles, who moved into the home six years ago, said their relationship with Wilberg became contentious about three years ago, for reasons they still don't understand.
They said they have called police at least four times because Wilberg was looking into windows or parking in front of their house. They said they also built a second fence on their property to keep Wilberg from spying.
Peggy Redmiles said their most recent call to police came just two days before the shooting incident, after Wilberg left a "scary" phone message regarding the barking puppy.
Wilberg told police after the shooting incident that he was "sick of listening to the dog bark" and had warned Peggy Redmiles, but she had "done nothing about the dog so he shot the dog," according to a probable cause statement.
Robert Redmiles said Wilberg should go to jail because he killed the puppy with premeditation.
"Sure, it made little noises as a puppy will do, but he certainly didn't deserve for Rick to put three different holes in the fence and shoot my puppy with kids in the area," he said. "It's reprehensible."