By John Hopkins | The Virginian-Pilot
Two dogs – Shih Tzus named Spike and Pootie – were discovered dead in May 2006 inside a suitcase at a storage unit on Portsmouth Boulevard .
The smell attracted attention.
For more than a year, prosecutors have worked to bring 33-year-old Jonathan Swanson to trial for animal cruelty.
The latest attempt to prosecute Swanson was derailed because the dogs’ owner, Swanson’s estranged wife, was out of the country and unavailable for trial last month. She is working on a cruise ship.
A judge’s ruling Friday in Chesapeake Circuit Court allows prosecutors to withdraw the charges against Swanson and refile them when his estranged wife is available for trial. Swanson, who now lives in Birmingham, Ala., would face two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.
The dogs were allegedly abused after a 2006 domestic dispute between Swanson and his wife at their Western Branch apartment complex in the 3500 block of Dunedin Drive. Afterward, Swanson’s wife asked police and domestic violence shelter workers to check on her pets because they could not be found at the apartment. Days later, the dogs were discovered dead at the storage unit.
Swanson’s attorney, Eric Korslund, argued to have the case dropped. The trial has been continued multiple times and withdrawn twice because of illness, an unavailable witness and lab results that were not ready, Korslund said.
John Hopkins, (757) 222-5221,