PITTSBURGH - A Western Pennsylvania man accused of stabbing and killing a Pittsburgh police dog and injuring officers was convicted Monday of 11 of 12 charges against him.
John Rush, 22, of Stowe Township, was found guilty of torture of a police animal, four counts of aggravated assault, disarming a law enforcement officer, and flight to avoid apprehension and escape, as well as misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals, resisting arrest, and possession of a weapon. The jury of eight women and four men found him not guilty on one count of burglary.
Rush, a convicted sex offender, was being sought on bench and arrest warrants Jan. 28 when police say he fought with and tried to disarm a sheriff's deputy and then ran into the basement of an apartment building in the Lawrenceville section.
There, police testified last week, he stabbed the police dog, Rocco, and the dog's handler, and fought several other officers before being arrested. Rocco died two days later.
Rush testified Thursday that he stabbed Rocco to protect himself.
The trial began Dec. 8 with daylong jury selection. Jurors heard opening statements Tuesday morning and testimony through Friday morning. The prosecution called 16 witnesses, and the defense six, including Rush.
Closing arguments finished by noon Friday, and jurors deliberated for four hours before Allegheny County Court Judge Jill E. Rangos sent them home for the weekend.
Rush faces up to seven years in prison on the dog charge alone. In the future, the charge will carry up to 10 years in prison, since the legislature in July passed Rocco's law, which raised the crime of harming or torturing a police animal from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony.