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Maine man found guilty of Franky the pug's torture and death

Justin Chipman was found guilty on Thursday in Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth. Franky's death sparked public outrage and a bill to create a state law.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — One of the men accused of using a Winter Harbor pug for target practice, then torturing and killing the dog, has been found guilty on all the charges levied against him. 

Justin Chipman was found guilty of one felony and four misdemeanors and is being held on bail.

Chipman is not allowed to have contact with the Torrey  family.

Chipman faced a Hancock County Superior Court judge in Ellsworth on Thursday.

The trial concluded around 2:12 p.m. on Thursday afternoon after closing arguments were made.

After the prosecution called their six witnesses to testify, and submitted the veterinary medical examiner's report in lieu of their testimony, the State rested its case. 

Winter Harbor police officer Eli Brown, was the prosecution's 6th witness. He was the lead investigation in the case.

Thursday morning's opening statements were brief. The prosecution did not make an opening statement since this is a bench trial.

Nathan Burke is also facing charges in connection with Franky's death but his trial has not yet been scheduled, according to the court.

Franky went missing on August 26, 2018, when Torrey's home was broken into and his Hummer returned damaged.

Torrey believed Franky had been lured to his death by two family friends, Burke and Chipman. 

RELATED: Police searching for two men in connection to 'brutal killing' of pug in Winter Harbor

In text messages, the duo admitted to taking Franky and the family's car while the family was away overnight, leaving behind the family's other dog, Budget.

After days and nights of searching for Franky, his body washed ashore wrapped in plastic bags onto the private property of the Hancock County District Attorney. 

The exact details of what happened, just too horrific to recount.

Speaking with NEWS CENTER Maine shortly after having to identify Franky's body, Torrey said, "what you’re looking at is not your dog. He’s beaten, shot, you know, and bloated, but then I kind of reached in and pulled his tail out and I could tell it was him."

RELATED: Family wants 'justice for Frankie' after pet dog was killed

Ever since the dog's death, the Torrey family has been looking for justice for Franky.

Public outrage over what happened to Franky led to the creation of a Facebook page and a bill to augment state law in cases of animal abuse or neglect.

RELATED: Family says Frankie's not the only victim in animal abuse case

RELATED: Hundreds attend benefit dinner for local animal shelters in memory of Franky the dog

The bill is LD 1442, “An Act To Provide for Court-appointed Advocates for Justice in Animal Cruelty Cases" or "Franky's Law" and is sponsored by state representative Donna Bailey.

If enacted into law, the bill would allow for an advocate to speak for justice during an animal abuse case. 

According to a spokesperson for Governor Janet Mills, this bill, along with several others, were held by the governor for further review at the end of the last legislative session.

Gov. Mills has 3 days to act on the bill at the beginning of the next legislative session in January 2020 but if she does not, it will automatically become law.

RELATED: Tortured, murdered dog sparks new bill

Both Burke and Chipman have been indicted on charges of burglary, theft, aggravated criminal mischief, and aggravated cruelty to animals in connection with Franky's death. 

Chipman has been held without bail on charges he faced prior to the Franky case since turning himself in to police on September 4, 2018.

RELATED: Men accused in Winter Harbor animal cruelty: One gets $1,000 bail, other held without bail

RELATED: Men accused in Winter Harbor animal cruelty case turn themselves in

In May 2019, Burke made a plea agreement to charges of a violation of condition of release and disorderly conduct, from an incident that happened after he was released on bail for the Franky case.

A judge ordered Burke to 70 days on both charges with time served. However, he violated his bail on August 25, 2019 so the state filed a motion to revoke his bail on August 30 and issued a warrant for his arrest.

He then failed to appear in court on October 8 for a new complaint of violation of condition of release, according to the court.

RELATED: Tortured, murdered dog case going to trial

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