NEW CASTLE, Pennsylvania | A dispute between neighbors took a strange turn this morning after one of the belligerents, a taxidermist, savagely assaulted the other one using a stuffed beaver as a weapon.
39-year old Barry Franklin and his 76-year old neighbor, Rudolph Cunningham, already had several conflicts over the last four years.
The two have already met in court three times and both were already subject to separate restraining orders from the court.
The two men got into another verbal altercation this morning, but things rapidly got out of hands and Mr. Franklin went back into his garage and came out with a rather unusual weapon: a 20-inch high stuffed beaver.
Fred Burns, who lives right across the street from the quarreling neighbors, witnessed the aggression and described it in an interview with the local radio.
“He was waving that rodent around like a baseball bat and he started hitting the other guy with it. But that thing looked pretty soft, it was a bit like a pillow fight.”
According to witnesses, Mr. Franklin struck at least 50 or 60 full-strength blows with his improvised weapon before bystanders were able to separate the two, but his victim suffered only a few minor bruises.
Deputies of the Lawrence County Sheriff Department arrived on the site a few minutes later and arrested the 39-year old.
Barry Franklin now faces a total of 87 criminal charges, including several charges of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon causing bodily harm, criminal trespassing and violating a court order.
If found guilty on all charges, he could get up to $125,000 in fine and spend up to 75 years in prison.
He was refused bail and will have to remain in custody until the beginning of his trial in November.