A Gainesville man charged with drowning one dog in a toilet and stabbing to death another collected news clippings of disgraced Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, according to court testimony.
Marty Eugene Savage, 50, appeared Wednesday in Hall County Magistrate Court for a preliminary hearing, charged with two counts of felony aggravated cruelty to animals. He remains jailed on a probation violation hold.
Hall County Sheriff’s Investigator Brian Foster testified that Savage admitted in an interview to killing the two dogs, one a 5-week-old mixed-breed puppy named Buddy that was repeatedly stomped and stabbed in the head, and a 7-year-old black Pomeranian named Smoky that was drowned.
Savage’s wife, 53-year-old Kathleen Savage, told authorities the details of the dogs’ deaths, which occurred about three weeks apart. Buddy was killed Oct. 8, and Marty Savage was arrested two days later.
Authorities recovered the bodies of the two dogs and sent them to Athens for necropsies. They had been placed in plastic grocery bags and thrown over a backyard fence into a wooded area behind the Savage home on Avenue B in the Chicopee area of Hall County.
Marty Savage confirmed his wife’s account of what happened to the dogs after initially giving a different version of events, Foster testified.
"He said, ‘Everything she said about the dogs and the anger issues I have is the truth,’" Foster recalled.
The investigator said when authorities carried out a search warrant of the duplex, they seized a blood-stained steak knife matted with fur and took pictures of news clippings of Michael Vick that were taped to a wall.
Vick, who pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges, is scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va., on Dec. 10. Vick’s case included allegations that underperforming dogs were drowned and electrocuted.
After the hearing, Kathleen Savage, who is seeking a divorce, said her husband called the collection of clippings his "wall of shame."
"He was very, very obsessed with that case," she said. "He thought Michael Vick was stupid for getting caught. He said people were stupid for enacting laws to protect animals, that animals didn’t have any rights."
Savage is unemployed and living off of disability from knee problems, his wife said. The 6-foot-6-inch, 275-pound defendant has a tattoo on his right arm that reads "Mad Dog," according to court records. He was arrested in January on battery charges alleging that he flicked a lit cigarette butt in a man’s face, spat on him and cursed him.
Savage has no prior violent felony charges in Hall County.
Kathleen Savage said she didn’t see her husband drown Smoky, but he told her what he did later. She said about three weeks after that, her husband, who she said was drinking heavily, became angry with her son, 23-year-old Warren Shepherd. Shepherd had earlier left the dog at his mother’s house, and Marty Savage told him in a heated phone conversation to come get the dog, she said.
Marty Savage then grabbed the dog by the spine, twisted its neck, and threw it to the floor as it yelped, his wife said.
"I saw him lift his size 16 foot and stomp on the dog," she said. "Then he said, ‘This ain’t gonna do it.’ That’s when he went into the kitchen to get the knife."
Savage said she ran into the bedroom because she didn’t want to see what happened next. When she returned to the living room, her husband was wrapping the dog in a plastic grocery bag.
"I saw the blood on the floor and started crying," she said. "He grabbed me by the neck and head-butted me, and told me if I told anyone about what was going on, he would do the same to me," she said.
Authorities believe the dog was stabbed with a serrated-edge steak knife through the lower muzzle and into the brain.
Kathleen Savage’s son called authorities two days later. Marty Savage was also charged with simple battery under the Georgia family violence act.
After hearing Wednesday’s testimony, Hall County Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Reisman bound the case over to Superior Court.
"There’s probable cause," Reisman told Assistant District Attorney Vanessa Sykes and Public Defender Kristin Jordan. "I’m not even going to deal with arguments."
Kathleen Savage, who describes herself as an animal lover, said she wants her husband of two years to pay for his actions. "I hope they bury him under the jail," she said.