The couple whose pit bulls fatally mauled a Truth or Consequences woman on Easter were jailed Tuesday after two Child Protective Services employees came forward with information about the dogs’ aggressive temperament.
John Hardiman, 40, and his wife, 32-year-old Maria Angelica “Angie” Hardiman face charges of conspiracy and four felony counts of violating the New Mexico Dangerous Dog Act, according to court documents. They are being held on $15,000 bonds at the Sierra County detention center, according to documents filed in court Tuesday.
The news comes less than three weeks after 7th Judicial District Attorney Clint Wellborn announced there would be no criminal charges against the former Truth or Consequences police officer and his wife unless someone with credible information came forward to authorities.
Under the act, if the owner of a dog who kills someone “knew of the propensity of a dog to inflict serious injury,” the owner can be charged with a felony punishable by up to six years in prison. Wellborn said someone came forward with the new information the night after he made the announcement that there would be no charges.
“We’re just going to go forward with the case, have a hearing scheduled at some point,” Wellborn said. “We’ll present our evidence at that point.”
The new information came from two Children, Youth and Families Department employees who had seen the dogs and heard about their upbringing during supervised visits between Angie Hardiman and her daughter, who is in CYFD custody, court documents state.
CYFD attorneys had determined that the information revealed in front of the employees was not protected and could be disclosed.
During two supervised visits in 2010, Angie Hardiman allegedly told one of the employees she and her husband “were going to train the puppies to be attack dogs and that they were going to sell them as guard dogs,” according to Tuesday’s filing. At a subsequent meeting, Angie Hardiman reportedly brought one of the dogs –
Diesel – into the CYFD office, where it lunged at an employee, repeatedly growling and snapping at her until she retreated.
Angie Hardiman was not allowed to bring the pit bulls to subsequent meetings.
However, at another meeting, Angie Hardiman reportedly mentioned that she had had to euthanize her dogs’ mother “because she hurt another dog … crush(ing) all the bones in the other dog’s head,” court documents state.
And at a meeting in March, Hardiman’s daughter reportedly told CYFD her mother was “mean” to the dogs and “would put a collar on them and hang them up with only their back feet touching the ground, and sometimes where they couldn’t touch the ground … (and) would also swing them around by the collar.” At one point, Hardiman’s daughter reportedly became upset with her mother and confronted her “about treating the dogs badly like she did the kids and told her she shouldn’t be allowed to own dogs,” the filing states.
It was less than two months after that last meeting that 48-year-old Margaret Salcedo was “viciously” taken to the ground by the escaped 8-month-old dogs as she was walking, just a block from the Hardimans’ home in the 1400 block of Nickel Street, according to Tuesday’s court filing.
Officer James Harrington reported seeing the dogs and responded by firing his gun in the air repeatedly, which failed to disperse the dogs, according to Tuesday’s court filing; Harrington was then charged by one of the dogs, “Diesel,” which he shot repeatedly, forcing it to flee, fatally wounded.
Salcedo had reportedly tried to call for help on her cell phone before being bitten on her arm and dropping her phone. Another man who tried to stop and render aid was also allegedly attacked by one of the dogs, preventing him from leaving his car.
It took several more warning shots before the rest of the dogs fled, court documents state.
Harrington and another officer tried to administer first aid to Salcedo until an ambulance arrived to take her to Sierra Vista Hospital, where she later died. An autopsy found the dogs had partially amputated her right arm, exposing bone, and punctured, lacerated and wounded her other extremities in multiple places, court documents state.
The three surviving dogs – “Romeo,” “KC” and “Alaby” – were subsequently euthanized by Sierra County Animal Control.
Wellborn had said in September that despite numerous, unsubstantiated rumors “that the dogs were fed live chickens, were killing livestock, and were so vicious that the school bus would not drop children off near the Hardiman residence, the investigation has been unable to locate any individual or evidence to verify any of these rumors. Quite to the contrary, individuals who were interviewed, who were either familiar with or had contact with the dogs, said the dogs had been around people on numerous occasions and seemed friendly and docile towards people.”