FIRESTONE, Colo. -
A 73-year-old Firestone man pleaded guilty Thursday to poisoning to death his neighbors' two dogs.
Joseph Losinski pleaded guilty in Weld County District Court to one count of aggravated cruelty to animals and one count of intimidating a victim or witness, both felonies, said Weld County district attorney spokesman Heath Montgomery.
He faces up to 7 1/2 years in the state Department of Corrections when he is sentenced on Dec. 12.
In a case that alarmed residents of a quiet Firestone neighborhood, Losinski laced meat with strychnine, a powerful poison, and fed the meat to a neighboring couple's two dogs, according to police and court records.
On Aug. 8, 2011, Travis and Tesla Dougherty found their dogs, a German shepherd named Dozer Boy and a chocolate lab named Kyera, dead in the backyard with strychnine-tainted meat lodged in their throats, according to a Firestone police search warrant obtained by 7NEWS.
Later, Losinski sent an intimidating letter to the owners of the dogs, Montgomery said.
7NEWS reporter Jaclyn Allen learned that Losinski, who had just moved to Firestone from Winona, Minn., was accused of poisoning animals in Minnesota.
In Winona, a former neighbor told 7NEWS that he took out a restraining order against the Losinski after animal carcasses started turning up on his property.
"It was the biggest dead raccoon I have ever seen," the Winona neighbor said said. "And we believe he threw that there right outside our bedroom window."
Police records show another former Winona neighbor, Barbara Crozier, told police that "all three of their dogs were poisoned ... with strychnine" and that she suspected the man, "but couldn't prove it."
In the Firestone poisonings, police records showed that investigators searching for strychnine seized items from the Losinski's home, including "unknown granular substances" that were taken in for testing.
The search warrant also stated that an agent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found meat in the Losinski's trash can that had similar characteristics to the meat found in the throats of the Doughertys' poisoned dogs.
The Doughertys and other neighbors lived in fear for more than four months until police had enough evidence to arrest Losinski on Dec. 20, 2011.
"It's really hard living next to somebody that you know killed your dogs," Travis Dougherty said.
7NEWS' Jaclyn Allen once confronted Losinki at his home, asking: "Did you poison your neighbors' dogs?"
"No," replied the man, denying any involvement in the dog killings. Then his wife told him to shut the door.
The Environmental Protection Agency was involved in the investigation due to strychnine being a controlled poison that requires special permits to possess.
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Hill prosecuted the case.