Ex-USDA worker, judge talk via phone in animal cruelty trial - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

UPDATE

Ex-USDA worker, judge talk via phone in animal cruelty trial

Russell Files was accused of animal cruelty after his neighbor's dog was caught in a trap on Files' property. (Source: El Mirage Police Department) Russell Files was accused of animal cruelty after his neighbor's dog was caught in a trap on Files' property. (Source: El Mirage Police Department)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A former U.S. Department of Agriculture employee from El Mirage accused of trapping his neighbor's dog was scheduled to go to trial Tuesday on federal animal cruelty charges.

Russell Files, 44, was arrested Jan. 8, 2013, after police found his neighbor's dog caught in a trap Files said he set it to keep the animal out of his yard, authorities said.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Files did not appear at U.S. District Court in Phoenix. Instead, a judge and Files had a hearing via telephone from the judge's chambers.

No information about the exchange was available.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge previously granted a state request to dismiss without prejudice the case against Files.

That prompted the Animal Defense League of Arizona to request the USDA investigate Files.

A Federal Court judge in August denied Files' motion to dismiss the felony animal cruelty charges.

His arrest followed a lengthy investigation that started Dec. 18, 2012, when El Mirage police found a 2-year-old Australian cattle dog covered in blood and entangled in the trap on Files' property.

Police said it appeared the dog had been baited into the trap because about two feet away there was an animal skull still containing some hair and flesh.

The dog, named Zoey, lost 17 teeth trying to chew her way out of the trap, officers said. The dog's gums were split open and her jawbone was exposed on both sides.

Files told police he set the traps intentionally to catch his neighbor's dog, which had been repeatedly wandering around his home.

Files was an agent of Wildlife Services, a program of the USDA.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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