It is true though, that this was no run of the mill animal abuse case. This was a brutal series of intentional mutilations, torture and execution of innocent puppies. Nally was accused of mutilating and killing 29 puppies that he received through classified ads, and Craigslist “free to good home” ads.
Nally’s house was raided by a SWAT team in March of 2011 when his girlfriend’s mother called authorities. His then girlfriend, Jessica Sellers, alleged that Nally had been holding her captive in his home and terrorizing her by torturing and murdering the animals in front of her.
Police found 29 dog carcasses on Nally’s property. They also found guns, which Nally was prohibited from possessing due to a 2010 domestic battery conviction, and collected other items including blood and hair covered tools and what appeared to be a beagle’s pelt and eyes in a jar.
During an evidence suppression hearing, Nally’s court-appointed attorney, James Carey, had argued to keep the pelt and the eyes out of evidence, citing a lack of scientific proof the items are what police claimed them to be. He also stated that he believed some of the crime scene photographs were staged.
Related: Alleged Puppy Torturer Appears in Court
Also Related: Accused ‘Free to Good Home’ Pet Killer Will Move to Suppress Evidence
Nally, age 20, was facing 29 counts of felony animal cruelty, one count of domestic battery, one count of kidnapping and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. Although he had passed on a plea deal offered to him last January, he took the plea offer he was offered this week.
Hancock County Prosecutor James W. Davis said that there had been an overwhelming outpouring of concern in the form of letters and e-mails from around the world relating to this case.
Nally pled guilty to nine charges of felony animal abuse and unlawful possession of a firearm. He will receive one to five years on each count of cruelty, and one year on the firearm charge to be served concurrently.
Nally has already spent a year behind bars while his case was continued in Hancock County Court. He will have to serve a minimum of five years before he can apply for an early release. In exchange for pleading guilty to the nine charges of felony cruelty, the sexual assault, kidnapping charge and other 20 cruelty charges were dropped.
Nally has shown no remorse for his actions, but Davis said that he has changed during the past year. “I wouldn’t call it remorse, but he has accepted that what he did was wrong,” said Davis. “Of course, people like this, sociopaths, they are mostly only concerned with how circumstances are affecting them.”
Restrictions on Nally ever having a pet and other requirements will be addressed further down the road at the time of his eventual release. “Not just having any pet,” Davis said. “I don’t want him to be around any animals, ever. Definitely not under the same roof.”
Davis said that a few dogs had escaped the house of horrors and have been adopted. “They are having great lives.” He said.
Part of the plea deal is the condition that Nally submit to a polygraph test and debrief authorities on Seller’s involvement in the cruelty charges. Sellers reportedly told investigators Nally said the only way she was leaving his 1855 Orchard Road home was “in a body bag,” and that on the day of his arrest he forced her to hold a puppy as he bored into its head with an electric drill. However, she testified during a February pretrial motions hearing that she had left the house without Nally’s supervision on several occasions during her approximately three-month “captivity” there.
“Ms. Sellers was a problematic witness,” Davis said, “because there is some question as to her level of involvement. There is some evidence that she obtained the animals for him. My dogs, they won’t hold still to have their nails clipped…these dogs he tortured…to do what he did, somebody had to hold them still. A dog is not going to hold still while a drill is bored into its skull.”
Davis was audibly distressed while discussing details of the case, and became overwhelmed and unable to continue when it was remarked that the case had greatly disturbed him.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Davis had noted the contributions of other people and groups involved with the investigation, including West Virginia State Police Cpl. Larry Roberts, Hancock County sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Swan and county Animal Control Officer Nicole Busick. He praised the work of forensic experts Drs. Beth Wictum of UC Davis and Melinda Merck – the latter of whom helped federal prosecutors build a case against Michael Vick – and thanked the Animal Legal Defense Fund for its pledge of financial support for the prosecution of the case.
Scott Heiser, of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said there is still work to be done. He referred to Nally as a narcissistic psychopath, and said that he believes that Nally cannot be rehabilitated. He does not think that Nally will be released in as little as five years.
“He is a clear and manifest threat to society,” Heiser said.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit that helps provide funds and support to prosecutors around the country for the best possible outcome in criminal cases of animal abuse. They provided the funds for the forensic scientists to build the case against Nally.
Heiser recommends that once Nally is transferred to the WV Division of Corrections, risk-scored, placed in one of WV’s several prisons and his projected release date set that then would be a good time to start a petition campaign urging the Parole Board to recognize Nally’s immense danger to society and ask that they deny him any concessions (e.g., no work release) and deny his release after serving the five-year minimum.