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Trial delayed for Sebastian officer charged in K-9's hot car death

Officer Eric Antosia faces animal cruelty charge

A Sebastian Police Department K-9 named Diesel died after being left in a hot car in Brevard County. (Sebastian police)

SEBASTIAN, Fla. – Attorneys for a Sebastian police officer charged with the death of his K-9 partner said they're continuing to challenge one of the state's expert witnesses, which means the trial may not begin until this summer, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

Nearly a year ago, a K-9 named Diesel was left for several hours in his handler's patrol car, according to a police report. Melbourne police investigated the matter and filed a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge against Officer Eric Antosia.

Before the trial can begin, the court has to settle whether veterinarian Dr. Angela Cail can be called to testify about the examination of Diesel. She determined the dog died from heatstroke, officials said.

"She was supposed to testify about a necropsy, but she didn't do one," said Viera attorney Greg Eisenmenger, who is representing Antosia. "She is not an animal pathologist."

Last fall, Eisenmenger filed a Daubert motion to challenge Cail's testimony as an expert witness. Hearings for the motion were delayed twice because Cail was not available, Eisenmenger said. 

Circuit Court Judge Kelly Ingram granted the motion, but the state filed an appeal. 

According to a Melbourne police report, Antosia went to a court proceeding at the Brevard County Courthouse in Melbourne on April 28 and took Diesel with him. 

"When he returned home, he forgot to remove his dog from the patrol vehicle. He shut the vehicle off and went inside his home," the report said.

The National Weather Service officials reported the temperature was about 88 degrees for much of that afternoon.

Antosia, 42, has been a police officer for more than 20 years and spent most of those years as a K-9 handler, according to court records. Diesel was his second dog.

Sebastian police placed Antosia on administrative leave without pay.