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Dog killed after botched theft

CLEARWATER — Brian Carmichael and Kristen Kelly arrived home from work early Sunday to find a former friend climbing in their apartment window.

Minutes later, after a furious parking lot scramble to avoid the friend's vehicle, Fella, the couple's 2-year-old Welsh corgi, was dead.

The intruder, Ajet Ukperaj, was charged with burglary, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and animal cruelty after he allegedly tried to hit Carmichael and intentionally ran over Fella with his Ford sedan.

Ukperaj, a former acquaintance of Carmichael's, denied purposely killing the dog, according to the arrest affidavit.

Carmichael said he can't escape the image of Fella suffering.

"I saw his face the whole time the tires were rolling over him," Carmichael said. "He was squealing the whole time."

The couple considered Fella a family member, he said.

They arrived at their apartment at 2909 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., about 1:30 a.m. Sunday after working a shift at Joe's Crab Shack, they said. The couple confronted Ukperaj, who they said was hanging halfway outside the window. Ukperaj lingered a while and then appeared to leave.

A few minutes later, Carmichael decided to take Fella for a walk. He grabbed his girlfriend's stun gun for protection, just in case, he said.

He and Fella were confronted by Ukperaj in the parking lot. Carmichael said Ukperaj raced his Crown Victoria around the parking lot twice attempting to hit him. The second time, Ukperaj swerved and hit the dog, Carmichael said.

After seeing Fella die, Carmichael ran toward Ukperaj's car. His former friend then backed his sedan toward Carmichael, Carmichael said.

Carmichael dodged onto a grassy median on the west side of his apartment complex. Ukperaj backed toward him again, but instead hit a palm tree, he said.

"He got out of the car, threatening me," Carmichael said.

Carmichael shot his former friend with the stun gun in self-defense, he said.

Ukperaj used to live at the apartment complex, but the couple haven't spoken to him in months, Kelly said.

Late Sunday afternoon, Ukperaj was being held in the Pinellas County Jail on $30,000 bail.

Dog killed after botched theft 06/29/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 2, 2008 6:46pm]

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