Maria Furtado, charged with facilitating the killing of a neighbor’s dog, was bound over to Fifth District Court during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing before Pahrump Justice Court Judge Ron Kent.
Kent’s decision came after hearing from Furtado’s 15-year-old son, who took the witness stand to testify against his mother.
Furtado will face the most serious charges before Fifth District Court Judge Kim Wanker.
The charges include child abuse and neglect, preventing or dissuading a person from reporting a crime, both felonies.
The other charge, aiming a firearm where a person might be in danger, is a gross misdemeanor.
The boy, under oath and in great detail, told the courtroom how his mother allegedly took a neighbor’s dog from its home, drove he and his 3-year-old brother to a remote location and shot the dog at least two times before telling the teenager to take the gun and finish killing the animal. Furtado said the dog allegedly killed one of her pet ducks earlier that day.
The boy said after arriving at the location, he and his brother walked a good distance away his mom before hearing at least two gunshots, followed by sounds of the dog yelping and crying.
“I’ve never heard an animal make that kind of a sound,” he said.
The boy then said he and his brother began walking back to his mother, while making sure the 3-year-old did not get too close to the scene of the shooting.
As the 3-year-old waited near the vehicle, the boy approached his mother and saw that the dog had been seriously wounded.
He said the animal had blood gushing from its head, while its jaw and muzzle were severely disfigured.
He said after the first shots were fired, the gun jammed and his mother told him to clear the weapon and instructed him to finish killing the animal.
He noted that hours after the killing, he felt bad, went to bed and began crying.
“I felt terrible and I couldn’t get it out of my head,” he said. I couldn’t go to sleep and I told my dad around midnight about what happened. Mom told me not to tell anyone. She kept saying that she was sorry.”
Aside from telling his father, who promptly called the police, the boy said he also told several friends about the killing via social media.
Furtado sat motionless as her son testified, while conferring with defense attorney Lisa Chamlee during testimony.
At times she fought back tears as her son recounted what he saw on that day.
The boy told the court what his mother’s reasoning was for killing the animal.
He said Furtado told him that his father poisoned the dog and it had to be put down to prevent the animal from suffering, a claim which prosecutors strongly dispute.
Several additional witnesses were also lined up to give their respective testimony, but prosecutors rested after the boy provided his account of what was alleged to have occurred.
Kent said prosecutors were in their right to end the testimony, to the strong objections of Chamlee.
Prosecutor Christi Kindel told Kent she believes the state met all of the elements that a crime was committed after the 15-year-old’s testimony.
“Our burden of proof is very low and the court’s already indicated the scintilla of evidence,” she said. “The witness testified that she didn’t exactly know how to load the gun or use the gun and when it jammed, she didn’t know how to clear the gun. She could have endangered other people by shooting that firearm.”
Chamlee told Kent that her client never put anyone in danger, including Furtado’s children.
“We didn’t hear any testimony from the child that my client pointed the gun at him or the 3-year-old,” she said. “There was nobody’s life that was in danger, so I would ask the court to discount the charge on count three because there was no evidence to support that charge.”
Kent praised the 15-year-old boy’s composure while on the witness stand describing the events that allegedly occurred on Aug. 6 before making his decision.
“I’m going to bind Ms. Furtado up to the Fifth Judicial District Court to answer these charges.” he said.
Days after her arrest, prosecutors tacked on an additional charge of killing, torturing or maiming of an animal.
She still faces the less serious charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, petit larceny and offenses involving stolen property, which will remain at the justice court.
The dog’s owner, Rick Wills, did not express anger towards Furtado, but he did have words of sympathy for the woman.
“We had a lot of animosity with her before, but we learned that she has some issues,” he said. “We just want her to get some help more than anything now.”