Puppy stabbed in barbecue battle at Belleville

Friday, September 7, 2001

BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- The wife of a Belleville man who is charged with stabbing to death a puppy said her husband killed the dog because she wouldn't go outside and barbecue with him.

Kathy Lybarger said she told her husband she wasn't feeling well Monday and was going to stay inside. But he stormed outside and when she looked out the window minutes later, she saw him stabbing the puppy, a female German shepherd mix named Baby.

Steve Lybarger, 49, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of animal torture, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of three years in jail, and misdemeanor animal cruelty. He is in the St. Clair County Jail in lieu of a $20,000 bond.

"My husband loves animals. He wanted a dog so bad. He just simply went off," Kathy Lybarger said. "He didn't mean to do it."

In 1997, Lybarger also was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in New Athens, but that case was dismissed when he pleaded guilty to another misdemeanor as part of a plea agreement. He allegedly had dragged a puppy on a leash for several blocks.

Lybarger is the first person in St. Clair County to be charged under a state law that allows prosecutors to charge suspects in extreme cases of animal abuse with a felony.

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