Youngest suspect in dog’s shooting charged with animal cruelty

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A 17-year-old suspect accused of burglarizing a home with two 18-year-olds in early January will face animal cruelty charges.

Arthur Lee Dupree III, of 60th Avenue, Vero Beach, faces felony charges of cruelty to animals and burglary of a dwelling while armed, according to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. Dupree was booked into the county jail Feb. 3 on $525,000 bond – $25,000 of which is for the animal cruelty charge.

The charge stems from a home burglary that occurred at the 5700 block of 59th Court, just west of Bent Pine Golf Club off 58th Avenue on Jan. 8.

According to the arrest reports, the juvenile, now identified as Dupree, told deputies that he was at Lem Bennefield’s home that day when they discussed burglarizing the victim’s home. Bennefield, 18, JohnKeith Lamar Carter, 18, and Dupree then went to house on 59th Court, where they took an Xbox 360, the 17-year-old said.

Dupree told deputies that they entered the house through an unlocked rear door. He said he was walking into the kitchen when the victim’s dog, a pit bull mix, ran at him, barking. That’s when the youth shot the dog, he said.

Both Bennefield and Carter denied being involved in the burglary, their arrest reports state. They both face charges of felony burglary and have been released from the county jail.

Carter faces an additional charge of misdemeanor marijuana possession.

Authorities caught up with the suspects about eight hours later when a deputy saw a suspicious vehicle and investigated, finding an Xbox 360 in plain view inside the vehicle, according to the arrest report.

A K-9 unit was called to the scene, and a Sebastian unit responded. The K-9 alerted on the vehicle, prompting a search of the vehicle, during which authorities found a .45-caliber handgun consistent with that used to shoot the pit bull.

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