FAIRFIELD — It took a jury about an hour to acquit a Fairfield man of a felony animal abuse charge Thursday for drowning his family dog in the Fairfield Civic Center pond.
Immediately after the verdict, Bryan A. Cavanah, 21, who has been in jail since his August 2013 arrest, was ordered to be released from custody.
It was undisputed that Cavanah took the dog, a pit bull terrier, into the pond and held it underwater until it drowned. But Cavanah’s attorney told jurors that her client was suffering from an epileptic seizure at the time of the drowning.
A key defense witness was a doctor from a San Francisco hospital, who showed videos he made of Cavanah having seizures while he was hospitalized. Paramedics and police who saw Cavanah shortly after the drowning testified they did not see any signs that Cavanah had just had a seizure. The doctor said the symptoms of a seizure can sometimes be too subtle for those who are not specialists to discern.
About the time of his arrest, Cavanah – his clothes, shoes and a backpack he had been wearing in the pond still soaking wet – told police he had no memory of drowning his dog.
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