Hot Spring County Prosecutor: No charges in Luky case, final lab results inconclusive

Joshua Waddles
Staff Writer

After the final report from the lab and Little Rock reported it was unable to declare a definite cause of death for Luky, the K9 Unit, Hot Spring County Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Howell has said there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal charge.

Initial “gross” reports from the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory of the Arkansas Livestock & Poultry Commission concluded Luky died of blunt force trauma. But after further examination, the new reports say that decay makes it difficult to know if damage to the body resulted from trauma or decay.

Luky was found dead by his handler at his handler’s home on Sunday, July 23. On July 24, investigators from the Hot Spring county Sheriff’s Office retrieved Luky’s remains and placed them in a freezer for preservation for the necropsy, according to reports provided by the Hot Spring County Sheriff’s Office.According to the affidavit,

Luky’s food and water bowls were both empty at the time. The handler, during earlier statements, said he had fed and gave water to Luky the morning of the day he found him dead. The medical examiner also found urine in Luky’s bladder during the necropsy.

The report also said the area Luky was found in was properly shaded.

Investigators found blood matted around the outside of Luky’s left ear and it appeared to investigators that Luky’s left eye protruded more than his right eye. An investigator located what appeared to be a small puncture wound behind the left ear and the investigator said it looked like it might have been caused by a small caliber round, but examinations later concluded that Luky had not been shot.

One neighbor told investigators that some of his (the neighbor’s) pets had been poisoned.

According to the lab report, trauma had been suspected during the gross examination due to skin lesions on the back of the head and suspected diaphragmatic hernia. Examining the tissue under a microscope, the lesions were not associated with hemorrhage and were damaged by moisture, autolysis (first stage of decay) and fly larvae.

Flies can begin laying eggs in a dead animal as soon as the animal dies, according to information made available by researchers.

The necropsy report explained that the lesions could have been caused by Luky’s metal collar. There was no evidence of acute or chronic injury and postmortem decomposition could have caused the tears in Luky’s diaphragm.

With the lack of definitive evidence, the medical proposed heat exhaustion or heat stroke as potential considerations for Luky’s death. In other reports taken by investigators with the Arkansas State Police, one neighbor said he also recently had an animal die of heat stroke.

The medical report said the cause of the intraocular hemorrhage (blood in the eye) were not known. Trauma could cause such a lesion, but other potential causes include eye infection or heat stroke, which may cause disseminated intravascular coagulation.

According to one reports, one neighbor claimed to have photographed mistreatment of Luky at the handler’s residence. No further information about this claim has been made available.

The handler agreed to take a polygraph test and the results came back inconclusive.

The handler named one person whom he’d had conflicts with who might have been a suspect. On July 24, the handler called and told Chief Deputy Pierce that on July 23, someone (name redacted in the reports) saw a vehicle near his property that looked like the one owned by the person he’d named. Investigators later interviewed this person who said he’d been home sick that day. This person said he would be willing to take a polygraph test if asked to do so.

Investigators interviewed one other witness who said he had gone to the handler’s residence on the day of Luky’s death. He said he did not approach Luky but Luky seemed full of energy, running back and forth on his leash. He said nothing seemed out of the ordinary with Luky.

Luky’s body was examined in Little Rock by an agency operating under the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission overseen by the governor, and initial X-rays were taken by the State Crime Lab.


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