A Grand Island man has been charged with two felonies for beating a 6-month-old puppy to death with a ball-peen hammer.
Michael J. Berst, 26, appeared in Hall County Court via video conference Monday morning. He was charged with the cruel neglect of an animal resulting in serious injury or death and tampering with physical evidence for the April 15 incident involving a pit bull terrier mix named Buddy.
In court, Deputy Hall County Attorney Nancy Berger-Schneider said someone saw Berst tossing what appeared to be an animal's body in a trash bin. That person notified authorities, and animal control officers from the Central Nebraska Humane Society responded and retrieved the puppy's body from the trash. Authorities determined the puppy belonged to Berst's family, she said.
The animal had been killed by blows to the head from a ball-peen hammer, she said.
When questioned by police, Berst admitted killing his family's dog, she said.
According to online records from the Hall County Jail, Berst was arrested at his home on Sunday.
Berger-Schneider asked for a bond of 10 percent of $100,000 due to the "heinous nature" of the crime and because Berst has previously failed to appear in court when required in another case. Hall County Judge Art Wetzel granted the request.
Berst's preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. June 11. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each felony.