(AP) COLUMBIA, S.C. - A Spartanburg County woman has been charged with felony animal cruelty, accused of hanging her nephew's pit bull with an electrical cord and burning its body after the dog chewed on her Bible, authorities said Monday.
When questioned by police and animal control officers, Miriam Smith told them the female dog named "Diamond" was a "devil dog" and she feared it might harm neighborhood children, according to an incident report from the county's Environmental Enforcement Department.
Smith, 65, was arrested Sunday and remains in the Spartanburg County jail. Bond has not been set. Officials said she doesn't have an attorney yet and there was no phone number listed for her Pacolet Mills home.
She faces 180 days to five years in prison if convicted.
Authorities said the 1-year-old dog was kept outside on a chain and chewed the Bible that had been left on Smith's porch. The dog's remains were found under a pile of dried, cut grass. Part of the orange cord was still around the dog's neck and a smell of kerosene still hung in the air, the animal control officer wrote in her report.
The dog was killed about two weeks ago when Smith's nephew was forced to spend several days away from home because of winter weather in the area, authorities said.
Smith is the first person is Spartanburg County to face a felony charge under South Carolina's tougher animal cruelty law, said Jaime Nelson, director of the county's Environmental Enforcement Department.
Smith's mental state will likely affect what kind of penalties she faces, Nelson added. He said he was stunned by how flat the woman's emotions sounded as she recounted on tape what happened to the dog.
"She just acted like - what's done has been done," Nelson said.