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Posted on Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 5:50 a.m.

Man convicted of beating puppy with tire iron in Ypsilanti receives 2-4 years in prison

By Art Aisner

In a last attempt at leniency, the Ypsilanti man convicted of severely beating a 5-month-old puppy with a tire iron offered an explanation in court Thursday that he never told investigators.

Eric Rutley, 30, told a packed courtroom he accidentally backed his truck over Brownie, his girlfriend’s Australian Shepherd, and tried to get her medical attention, but couldn’t afford it.

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Annie rests in her new home in Whitmore Lake. Art Aisner | For

“I never meant to hurt Brownie and have been a life-long dog lover,” Rutley said as he read from a handwritten note pulled from the front pocket of his jail jumpsuit.

Washtenaw County Circuit Judge David Swartz slapped Rutley with a two- to four-year prison sentence and said he would have issued more time if state guidelines allowed.

Earlier this month, Rutley pleaded no contest to animal cruelty/torture involving Brownie and felonious assault involving an attack on his girlfriend around the same time the puppy was hurt. He also pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and witness intimidation charges in a deal he and his attorney insisted he had to take.

“I’m not blameless . . . I did wrong, but I never hurt her or Brownie intentionally,” he said. “I don’t expect people to believe me.”

Swartz didn’t. He said he was “beyond curious” Rutley wouldn’t have told officers he accidentally ran over the dog.

“I just don’t believe you, and I think it’s absolutely insane,” Swartz said.


Eric Jason Rutley

Swartz also ordered Rutley to pay $8,335 in restitution incurred for the dog’s care and gave him no credit for time served. Rutley has been at the Washtenaw County Jail since his arrest in early September, largely because he was on parole for a criminal sexual conduct conviction at the time. His criminal record dates back to 1997 and includes convictions for burglary, drug delivery and assault with intent to commit great bodily harm, prison records show.

That factored into the sentencing recommendation, as did the brutality of the recent attacks, Assistant Prosecutor Dianna Collins said. After a fight with his girlfriend on Aug. 26, investigators say he struck Brownie repeatedly, shattering two legs and knocking out several teeth.

He then dumped the puppy in a park and confronted his girlfriend in their Bell Street home. Court records indicate she told police he nearly choked her unconscious and told her Brownie was dead.

The woman was not in court Thursday and didn't submit a victim’s impact statement.

Brownie was found by an Ypsilanti resident walking a dog that night. She recuperated with help from the Humane Society of Huron Valley. Her hind left leg was amputated, and another leg was saved with a metal plate and a series of screws that she’ll have for life.

She was adopted late last fall by Jerry Nordblom, who with wife Barbara, care for two other rescued dogs on their property in Whitmore Lake. Now known as Annie, the 11-month-old puppy is adjusting to her new life and thriving.

“She obviously can’t come up here and speak today,” Nordblom said while addressing the court Thursday. “But if she could, I think she’d say ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. I was only 5 months old.”

He implored Swartz to issue a maximum sentence as a strong message to others, noting the correlation between Rutley’s violence toward humans and canines alike.

“These are symptoms of the same pathological problem. If he’s allowed to roam free, the citizens of our community, both animal and human will not be safe,” he said.

Nordblom and investigators with the Humane Society said they were grateful for Swartz’s stern decision and the outpouring of community support for Annie’s recovery.

Enough money was raised in response to media reports of Annie’s injuries that the Humane Society established a fund to help other abused animals or strays with medical issues get treatment, cruelty investigator Matt Schaecher said.

Art Aisner is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Sun, Feb 28, 2010 : 3:08 p.m.

Del Dunbar, I was not referring to you comment. I agree with you completely about the dog fighting people, they should be in the same cell, right next to Eric Rutley.

scooter dog

Sun, Feb 28, 2010 : 10:20 a.m.

If I am not mistaken and correct me if I am wrong the case of the dog fighting ring that got a slap on the wrist sentence was handled by none other than judge Melinda Morris,need I say more


Sat, Feb 27, 2010 : 1:48 p.m.

Thank you Judge Swartz, and thank you HSHV!

Del Dunbar

Sat, Feb 27, 2010 : 11:13 a.m.

My comment had nothing to do with the tragic bicyclist case that was handled appropriately. The comment had everything to do with an extremely abusive dog fighting/gambling business that was judiciously processed with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. The Huron Valley Humane Society had spent many, many hours on that case only to have the guilty party go virtually unpunished.


Sat, Feb 27, 2010 : 10:17 a.m.

Bravo!! Bravo!!, and a big thank you to Judge Swartz. Also, concerning the bicyclist. His family took part in the sentencing of the young man who caused the accident (yes, that is what it was). They fully agreed with it and did not want the kids life destroyed. Totally different story, so please do not compare the two. The man that did this is a sadistic person who did it intentionally and to ignore it would only encourage more of the same behavior. Thanks and Judge Swartz for doing the right thing!!!!


Sat, Feb 27, 2010 : 12:36 a.m.

One sick SOB. Too bad the dog couldn't use a tire iron in defense.


Sat, Feb 27, 2010 : 12:27 a.m.

I just wanted to say that I recently started volunteering at HSHV, and found that the shelter is truly full of kind, hard-working people who do everything they can to help the animals in our community. It's been a really uplifting experience to see the kindness and concern with which they minister to each animal, and the success that they have had in fostering these feelings of compassion within the community. Truly, the shelter reflects the beauty of the people who contribute their time and money to serving those who have been abandoned and forgotten.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

a good decision... congratulations Judge Swartz... thanks

Del Dunbar

Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 6:21 p.m.

Finally, a judge who considers animal abuse a serious matter. Hopefully one of his colleagues may now reconsider her past lenient and insensitive attitude towards this kind of criminal behavior.

scooter dog

Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 6:17 p.m.

I don't hope the prison population does anything for my benifet,I am not the judge.I have heard from people who have done time that they,the cons will make him pay dearly for what he has done,so use your imagination and you might get close.This site likes to delet anything written against anyone good or bad

scooter dog

Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 3:30 p.m.

He'll get what is comming to him in prison.The cons have very little use for animal abusers or child molesters and they will deal with him accordingly.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 3:15 p.m.

Lock him up. And while he's away maybe the prosecuters office could look into all those wonderful people that helped care for Brownie to the of $8,335.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 2:38 p.m.

Thank you Judge Swartz.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

Dr. Billy Mays Ghost: I'm a dog owner and lover. He got what he deserves. Thanks to Judge Swartz and HVHS. Let this be a lesson for other potential animal abusers.

Theresa Taylor

Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

BRAVO to Judge Swartz!!


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 1:06 p.m.

Too bad Judge Swartz was limited by state guidelines. I'd like to know what he would have given out had those limitations not been in place. I'd bet we're going to hear from Rutley again, once he gets out of prison.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 12:40 p.m.

Some commentors do not know the difference between an accident and an on purpose. Good for the Judge! Let him live with people truly of his own kind---mean, nasty, and violent. Let's see how he fares against men as strong or stronger than he is. Coward who picks on women and dogs.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : noon

I did wrong, but I never hurt her or Brownie intentionally, he said. So the tire iron made him do it?


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 11:28 a.m.

Billy May's Ghost- Oh please have some honor & a sense of what happened here. Why must some people always twist a story into something totally different? A sick pervert tortured a helpless puppy, is a sex criminal, a thief & did an assault on someone, gets the book thrown at him, and you whine about a bicyclist's rights! Just be glad this creep is behind bars.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 11:19 a.m.

Great decision Judge Swartz! Both "dogs" are where they should be!


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

Please donate what you can to the Huron Valley Humane Society


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

Phoasti Flunies - I think Dr. Billy Mays' Ghost is referring to the man who hit and killed the bicylist in Pittsfield township only got probation, no jail time. However, the differences between these cases Dr. Billy Mays' Ghost is that the man who hit the bicyclist was neligent, he didn't do it on purpose or with malicious intent. He is NOT a threat to society. The guy in this story obviously did this on purpose WITH malicious intent....BIG DIFFERENCE!


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 10:16 a.m.

I am guessing there are dog lover in the joint that may handle things for Brownie. The brother is crazey if he thinks this wont come back to bite him.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 10:16 a.m.

Thank you, Judge Swartz. And much love to HSHV and the other kind people involved in Annie's care and rehabilitation.

Quercus Alba

Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 9:53 a.m.

And well done, HSHV!

Quercus Alba

Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

Well done, Judge Swartz.

Phoasti Flunies

Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 9:46 a.m.

@Dr. Billy Mays' Ghost Please finish this statement: If a bicyclist was beaten with a tire iron and then dumped in park,.... I'd love to hear how "Dog has more rights than a bicyclist."


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 9:01 a.m.

This man got what he deserved, and if the there wasn't state guidelines, I would say he deserves even more time to serve. Good job Judge Swartz for protecting animals and humans that can't defend themselves. This man is sick and needs to know that lying about something like this and getting caught has dire consequences. I wish Annie the best for her recovery and I'm glad she has gone to a good home.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 9:01 a.m.

Thank you Judge Swartz. Annie is where she belongs, and Rutley is where he belongs.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 8:46 a.m.

I can only guess as to how many comments this verdict will produce. There are so many things wrong in this sad story, I don't know where to start. Let's see, he harms women and at least one animal. You can't fix this deviant behavior. Thank you Judge Swartz, Dianna Collins and Humane Society for doing everything within your power! Bub-bye Rutley. Another loss for the Michael Vick Society.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 8:33 a.m.

Kudos to Judge Swartz - this man's record speaks for his disgusting behavior. His excuse for the harm he inflicted upon a defenseless puppy and girlfriend is pathetic and totally unbelievable. May he receive similar treatment in prison. Bravo to all those who came to the rescue and defense of this puppy.


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 8:14 a.m.

Dear Honorable Judge Swartz, A very big hearty "Thank You" for doing the right thing. I have no problem with you using my tax dollars to put this bad guy away for a couple years!!


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

Anyone who would do that to a puppy,could do anything to anybody! I wish they could have put him away for longer!!!!!!


Fri, Feb 26, 2010 : 7:28 a.m.

Kudos to Judge Swartz for sentencing the maximum amount of time. A much longer sentence would have been better, but this will do. I wish Annie continued good progress in her healing.