Details Released In Hot Car Death Of Madison County K-9

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MADISON COUNTY (KFSM) — The Washington County prosecutor released documents Friday (Sept. 23) that detail how a K-9 that belonged to Madison County died Sept. 9.

Deputy Jonathon Cornelison was the handler for K-9 Lina, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois. She died after having been left in Cornelison’s vehicle, according to documents from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, which handled the investigation.

Cornelison told investigators the sheriff’s office had lost a few employees, so he was working five 10-hour days a week, the documents show.

On Sept. 8, Cornelison finished his 10-hour shift at 6 a.m., took his children to daycare and school, then was called in to assist the 4th Judicial Drug Task Force until 3 p.m. and did not go to bed until 9:30 p.m., according to the documents. When he went to bed, he said he had been awake for close to 28 hours.

On Sept. 9, Cornelison woke up at 6 a.m. to take his children to daycare and school and as he was driving home he was called in by Arkansas State Police to assist with a vehicle accident involving a known drug user, the documents state. Cornelison loaded Lina into his patrol vehicle, a Ford Crown Victoria, and drove to the scene of the accident with a drug test kit, according to the documents.

Cornelison returned home around 9 a.m. and went inside thinking he had put Lina in her kennel, which is behind a barn, the documents state. At about 10 a.m., he drove his truck to help a friend with his lawn mower and after returning home he called his father around 10:25 a.m. before going to pay his water bill at the Water Department around 11 a.m., according to the documents.

Cornelison stopped by the bank around noon and then went to the jail to meet with a probation officer and prosecutor about the ASP accident he had assisted with, the documents state. After that, he went to the sheriff’s office until about 1:30 p.m. and then stopped at an auto parts store.

During that time, a Huntsville police officer contacted Cornelison about a DWI case and the two met at JamDot Chillspot to review it, according to the documents. Cornelison said he got home between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. where he was greeted by his other other dog and then noticed he had not heard anything from Lina from her kennel, the documents state.

He eventually found Lina dead in the back of his patrol car, according to the documents.

Cornelison told investigators he had no doubt that he had accidentally left the K-9 in the vehicle, the documents state.

A veterinarian told investigators Lina had died of heatstroke and there was no exam performed when she was brought in because there was nothing the vet could do, according to the documents.

Interviews with other Madison County deputies show deputies at the sheriff’s office are scheduled to work 50 hours a week due to lack of manpower and most work overtime, continuously exceeding 50 hours a week.

Interviews also show Cornelison was in a state of shock and beside himself after finding Lina had died. According to the documents, Cornelison had been the driving force for Lina’s purchase and had raised funds to buy the dog.

Washington County Prosecutor Matt Durrett said Friday that he will not file animal cruelty charges against Cornelison because there is not enough evidence to prove that he intended to hurt Lina.

Sheriff Morgan said Friday he had no comment on the case for now since he has not had time to thoroughly review the prosecutor’s decision.


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