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Dog beating added to inmate's troubles

Jailed in the beating of his girlfriend, Barry Colbert calls to ask buddies to bury her dog. The dog's badly beaten, too, but alive.

By MATTHEW WAITE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 19, 2002


MOON LAKE -- Already in jail facing charges of beating his girlfriend, Barry Colbert had other worries.

photo
[Times photo: Brendan Fitterer]
Authorities think they have found the hammer used to beat Buster, a boxer mix. The animal suffered a broken jaw, a damaged eye and a concussion, but is improving, a veterinarian said.
According to a Pasco County sheriff's report, Colbert called a friend Sunday morning from the Land O'Lakes jail phone to ask a favor. The report said Colbert, 39, asked a neighbor couple to bury his girlfriend's dog, the one he thought he killed Friday with a hammer before his arrest.

"(The friend) said Barry stated he wanted them to do this so he would not have any additional charges," the report said.

On Friday, a deputy called to Colbert's house on Smokey Lake Loop saw Colbert straddling Jacki Clever in the front yard, punching her in the face. The deputy ordered Colbert to put his hands in the air, but he swore at the deputy and walked away, according to the deputy's report.

Colbert was arrested; Clever was put on a helicopter and sent to Bayfront Medical Center.

Facing charges of felony battery and resisting arrest charges, Colbert was held Monday night in the Land O'Lakes jail in lieu of $1,500 bail.

This weekend's run-in with the law is only the latest in a string over the past month.

On Feb. 16, Colbert said he let his girlfriend's 7-year old son drive his car. The boy used inline skates to prop himself up in the seat. The boy got into an accident. Colbert, who was sitting in the passenger seat, admitted he had been drinking and was arrested.

Within a week, investigators removed the 7-year-old boy and Colbert's 3-year-old son from the household when officials found marijuana and drug paraphernalia inside. Colbert was arrested again.

He told the Times he was giving the investigators a tour when he opened a cabinet to show them rice and beans, only to reveal a water pipe used to smoke marijuana.

And now, according to Animal Control officials, Colbert will face felony animal cruelty charges as soon as they can finish their investigation into what happened Friday.

After Colbert called on Sunday, the friends told Clever what Colbert had asked them to do.

Clever, suffering from a concussion, bruises, a broken nose and wearing a neck brace after her release from the hospital, called deputies to help her look for her dog.

Neighbors found Buster, alive, near a tree. The boxer-mix dog was "severely beaten," according to the sheriff's report. The dog had a bad head wound, its left eye was severely damaged, its jaw was broken and the dog appeared malnourished, the report said.

On Monday, a veterinarian said Buster had eaten some, even wagged his tail.

"He's doing pretty good under the circumstances," said Dr. Robert Hase of Bayonet Point Animal Hospital.

Tim Gray, a field supervisor with Pasco County Animal Control, said investigators found what they think is the hammer used to hurt the dog, and investigators are having the tool tested now. He said other evidence will have to be gathered before going forward with charges.

"There's going to be state charges pressed against him," Gray said.

If charged and convicted, Colbert will face similar punishment for nearly killing the dog as he would for the charges he faces in the beating of Clever. Both are third-degree felonies, punishable by up to five years in prison.

-- Staff writer Matthew Waite can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6247 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6247. His e-mail address is waite@sptimes.com

How to help

The Pet Aid Service Society is raising money to help pay for the dog's veterinary bills. Donations can be made to PASS, 9458 U.S. 19, Port Richey, FL 34668. The group's phone number is (727) 817-1812.

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