CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Jury selection began Tuesday in the animal cruelty case against Michael Tortorici.
Cheektowaga Police say the 58-year-old Sloan man began yelling at his German Shepard “Max” when the dog was found asleep in one of the bedrooms of the home. Police say Tortorici punched, kicked and pulled the dog by the head, and the dog bit Tortorici on the wrist. Tortorici then allegedly beat the dog with a wooden barstool.
After a 12-year-old boy took Max outside, police say Tortorici followed, beating Max with a two-by-four. Police say Tortorici then brought the dog into the basement, where he shot it in the stomach with a 12-gauge shotgun. Officials say the gunshot wound was not immediately fatal and that the dog suffered before he died.
Cheektowaga Police Capt. Jim Speyer said, “He overreacted. Way overreacted. And he ended up basically torturing that dog for awhile before that dog actually died.”
Tortorici’s attorney Frank LoTempio maintains his client acted in self defense, after the dog became aggressive and attacked him.
LoTempio said, “It’s awful for him. He feels horrible; he can’t believe that his reputation is being maligned like this, especially in relation to how he feels about dogs and animals. It’s tough for him, it’s really tough.”
Nine jurors have been selected so far. Jury selection continues Wednesday.