Judge accepts Alford plea in deadly dog mauling of elderly man in Christian County
A Christian County judge accepted a plea deal in a fatal dog mauling case.
Joseph Brink faced a second-degree involuntary manslaughter in the death of Werner Vogt, 85, in November of 2015. Instead, the judge accepted an Alford plea to a lesser misdemeanor charge of third-degree assault.
Investigators say Vogt was riding his bicycle on a rural road near Rogersville when Brink's two boxer-breed dogs attacked him. Vogt's family found him covered in blood on the side of the road. He died three weeks later.
The prosecutor acknowledged the Vogt family is not satisfied with the outcome of the case, but they declined to speak about it after the hearing.
Both sides acknowledged there was new evidence on whether or not the dogs responsible were actually Brink's dogs. That new evidence led the prosecutor to this plea deal.
"New information came out that was not known at the time the case was presented to the grand jury," says defense attorney Joseph Passanise. "For instance, Mr. Vogt, before he passed, told law enforcement resoundingly that he knew the neighborhood dogs. He did not believe or even suspect it was one of the neighborhood dogs, i.e. not the Brinks' dogs. Then, there were other issues with a bite expert that was disclosed to us regarding some initial reports, and then, of course, the DNA evidence in this case."
Both attorneys and Judge Laura Johnson stressed that this plea agreement, in no way, discounts the Vogt family's tragic loss.
"Healing needs to start," said Passanise. "A man died from this incident, and while there was a lot of serious factual issues in dispute in this case, the resolution that the prosecutor gave today ended the litigation. And so for those reasons, because it's stressful not only for Mr. Brink and his family, but also for the Vogt family."
Prosecutors dropped a charge against Brink's wife. The Brinks settled a wrongful-death lawsuit with Vogt's son for $300,000.