TACOMA — A Pierce County jury has acquitted a man accused of having sex with the family dog.
Michael Patrick McPhail, 26, of Spanaway, was found not guilty Wednesday in Pierce County Superior Court of first-degree animal cruelty.
Assistant Pierce County Prosecutor Karen Watson said last fall that McPhail was the first person charged in the county under a new state law that made bestiality a felony.
"I'm glad that justice was able to see it wasn't an action of my doing," McPhail said as he left the court building.
He said he believes his wife made up the story because she is seeking to end their marriage.
It was Jesika McPhail who contacted police and told them she'd caught her husband engaged in sexual intercourse with their pit bull, Sara, last October. Jesika McPhail was not immediately available for comment about the verdict.
The case generated outrage among animal welfare advocates across the globe, many of whom called for McPhail to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Deputy Prosecutor Brian Leech, who tried the case, said he was disappointed.
"Obviously, I thought the facts were more than sufficient to merit a conviction," Leech said. "The defense was able to introduce some evidence about strife in the marriage. I don't think that was supported, but apparently the jury gave it some weight."
The new law, which took effect last June, was prompted by a case in which a Seattle man died after having sex with a horse. Before the law was enacted, Washington was among roughly a dozen states where bestiality had not been explicitly prohibited.