Fort Worth

Grand jury declines to indict landscaper accused of hurting dogs with weed whacker

Moxie Courtesy of Dawn Painter

A Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict a Fort Worth landscaper accused of injuring two dogs with a weed whacker, according to county records.

William Michael DeWitt was arrested last year after a Fort Worth woman accused him of scaling her fence to do some landscaping work and then injuring two dogs in the back yard with the weed whacker.

The grand jury declined to indict him March 31. Dawn Painter, the owner of one of the dogs, is “floored.”

“I feel like he got away with what he did,” Painter said Monday. “I feel like if he’s done it once, he could do it again.”

The district attorney’s office declined to comment Monday. DeWitt’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.

Painter told the Star-Telegram last year that she had hired DeWitt for the landscaping services of DeWitt Lawn Care. She said she explained to him that her and her roommate’s three dogs — in particular, her Lab mix, Moxie — were wary of strangers and that he should not enter the back yard when the dogs were out unless she was present.

“I had specified to this man, ‘Do not go in my back yard — ever — if I am not here and my dogs are out,’ ” Painter said. “I made it very clear.”

Painter said they agreed to a plan for DeWitt to work on her front yard, on Trail Lake Drive, while she was at work June 14 and come back two days later to work in the back yard, when she would be at home.

Painter said a neighbor saw Dewitt scale her locked fence — with a weed whacker in hand — to enter her back yard. Moments later, Painter’s roommate, Emily Mathe, heard Moxie and her own dog, a pregnant pit bull named Sundae, crying. She said she went outside to find the dogs injured and DeWitt in the back yard holding the weed whacker, according to Star-Telegram archives.

Mathe said DeWitt gave her three different accounts of what happened, saying in one of them that the dogs had injured each other while fighting. She said he ultimately said he struck the dogs with the weed whacker after the pit bull, followed by the Lab, came after him.

It took about three weeks for Moxie’s wounds to heal, Painter said.

Fort Worth Detective R. Molina said in an arrest warrant affidavit that Dewitt was attempting to get an early start on the back yard without Painter’s permission when he was confronted by Moxie, “who was protecting her property.”

“DeWitt used the weed eater on Moxie, causing deep lacerations across Moxie’s entire chest, belly and slightly underneath her muzzle,” Molina wrote in the affidavit.

Painter filed a police report the day after the incident. DeWitt was arrested Oct. 31.

Painter said she was told by an official that the grand jury’s decision “may have gone differently if he was there to rob us.”

“I say, what does it matter?” Painter said. “He was not allowed back there and the gate was locked.”

Painter said DeWitt has not contacted her since the incident.

“I’m still shocked and amazed,” Painter said. “It’s cases like this that cause people to take care of things on their own.”

This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.

Mark David Smith: 817-390-7808, @MarkSmith_FWST