Schenectady murder suspect’s son charged with beating pitbull with shovel
Updated 10:17 a.m.
SCHENECTADY An apparent neighbor dispute last month has resulted in a felony charge against the man who took in his younger siblings after his mother was arrested on a murder charge earlier this year.
DC Dunkel, 20, of Mynderse Street, was charged Monday with third-degree criminal mischief after his neighbor, Gaston Hooks, said he smashed out the rear window of Hooks’ van with a pipe April 27 on nearby Locust Avenue. The charge was elevated to a felony because the damage is estimated at more than the $250 threshold for the felony charge.
The charge, though, is based on the word of a neighbor, Dunkel’s attorney noted, and, if it came down to it, the case would be decided on credibility and in his client’s favor. The attorney, Steve Signore, also said he doesn’t see the charge impacting the man’s custody of his younger siblings because the charge has nothing to do with them or his custody.
Court paperwork bases the charge on Hooks’ “personal knowledge and investigation.”
Dunkel remains free on his own recognizance, Signore said, and added that he has no criminal history.
Further details on the incident were not provided Wednesday by Schenectady police.
Dunkel also faces animal-cruelty charges stemming from alleged incidents on April 30 and May 6 in Schenectady. The Schenectady County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says Dunkel beat his dog with a shovel. He was charged with aggravated animal cruelty.
The SPCA gave the following account:
On April 30, SPCA investigators began investigating reports of a two-year old male pitbull being beaten by a man with a shovel, which a witness claimed to have recorded.
Officers were investigating the incident when they received another tip from the witnesses who claimed to have another recording of the dog being beaten on May 6.
In the case stemming from the apparent neighbr dispute, Dunkel's neighbor Hooks has his own criminal history: a 2004 conviction for first-degree perjury and tampering with physical evidence, records show. The perjury convictions related to asking people to lie for him, the evidence tampering for preparing false statements for them to sign.
Also filed against Dunkel was a complaint for illegal dumping, with a different complainant. That count, a violation, accuses Dunkel of dumping waste and debris on another individual’s nearby property April 6.
Dunkel’s mother, Gloria Nelligan, was accused in February of beating her 8-year-old grandson — Dunkel’s nephew — to death. Nelligan, 43, was later indicted on one count each of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter in the Feb. 23 death of Sha’hiim Nelligan.
Nelligan is accused of using items including a wooden back scratcher and hair brush to beat the child ultimately to death. The beatings, prosecutors have said, took place over a 24-hour period and were so severe that much of the child’s blood went to bruising. That meant there was little blood left to circulate in his body, causing his death.
Nelligan has pleaded not guilty.
In the aftermath, Dunkel took in his younger siblings and has since gained temporary custody, Signore said.
He said Dunkel has been working with the county Department of Social Services and Family Court to make that custody permanent.