No charges in fatal dog mauling of 80-year-old Harleyville man in wheelchair

Before he died earlier this month, an 80-year-old Harleyville man asked that authorities not pursue charges against anyone connected with the dogs that mauled him.

Investigators from the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office said the pack of dogs didn’t belong to anyone, though some people in the community may have fed them.

Because the animals were feral and because Carlton Freeman and his relatives didn’t want to get anyone in trouble for his death, deputies won’t ticket or charge anyone criminally in the May 8 attack, according to a statement this morning from Lt. Tony Phinney.

Phinney said that the four dogs had lived in a shed on someone’s property, but that no one owned them.

The animals attacked Freeman around 3 p.m. May 8 as he sat in his electric wheelchair near Spring Branch and Dunnings roads. Freeman had lost his legs because of an infection caused by diabetes, and he used the wheelchair to get around.

He died four days later at Trident Hospital.

Barbara Goodwin, a neighbor, was said to have owned the dogs. She told a reporter earlier this month that she had expected a ticket for letting the dogs run loose.

But Freeman never blamed Goodwin for the mauling, his relatives said.

Phinney added that Goodwin would throw table scraps to the animals but that they had always roamed freely.

Investigators consulted with prosecutors, animal control experts and County Coroner Chris Nisbet and agreed to close the case without charges, Phinney’s statement said.

Reached today, Goodwin contradicted the Sheriff’s Office statement that all four were feral.

She reiterated that she had “owned” three of the dogs, but that the fourth was wild. They were mixed breeds; two were puppies.

But Goodwin, 61, said detectives had informed her that they were dropping the case, so she declined to talk further about it.

“I’m so sorry this happened,” she said. “I would do anything if I could have kept it from happening.”

Three bloodied dogs were removed from Goodwin’s land after the episode. Animal control officers set traps for the fourth, but it was never found.

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