Court Brought Into Neighborhood Squabble
HOUSTON (CN) - A single mom wants a Texas court to help her with the neighbor she says shot her kid's dog and has "positioned himself as an evil troll" at the gates he installed on her driveway.
In a petition to Harris County Court for a restraining order against Johnny Peeples, Cheryl Stewart says she holds a 70-year-old easement that allows her to drive down a quarter-mile road, past 12 lots, to reach her suburban Houston home.
"With the exception of defendant, the neighborhood is a congenial community and no one has a problem with plaintiff using her driveway," Stewart says. "All of the lot owners, including defendant, use the easement to access the back of their properties."
It had not been long after Stewart and her three children moved into their home that Peeples first tried blocking the easement by parking a trailer on it, according to the petition.
"Plaintiff approached him as a friendly neighbor and asked him to move it," Stewart says. "He lashed out, refused to move it, and told her as long as she could drive around it he was free to park on the easement."
He saw her kid's small Dalmatian and allegedly warned her "if the dog ever got on his property he would kill it."
"Shortly thereafter, while plaintiff was driving home on the easement with her children, she saw the dog in the ditch dead with a bullet wound in his neck," Stewart says.
Peeples denied killing the dog, but Stewart says "the circumstantial evidence now is too strong."
"Defendant has shot one of plaintiff's children's dogs and left it in a ditch to be discovered when plaintiff and her children come home," the petition states.
Peeples also kidnapped another of the family's dogs and "held it in a cage facing the easement so that plaintiff's children would see it when she drove by," Stewart says.
Too scared to enter his property to retrieve the animal, Stewart was allegedly powerless to keep Peeples from sending it to the pound.
She claims the friction intensified after she testified against Peeples in a criminal proceeding that he had dumped trash on a church's property next to his land, and in a lawsuit the church filed against him.
The court acquitted 44-year-old Peeples of the misdemeanor illegal dumping charge in October 2012.
Peeples put up two gates on his lot in January to block Stewart's easement so she has to get out of her car twice and unlock the gates that Peeples chains up, according to the petition.
"Plaintiff literally feels as though she is trapped in a Hitchcock horror scene with her children watching every time she gets out of her vehicle on defendant's property and nervously fumbles with his chains while glancing over her shoulder hoping he is not approaching with a gun," she says.
The 5-foot-9-inch, 200-pound Peeples, as described in the criminal case, intimidates other neighbors as well, according to the petition which includes several affidavits.
Jeff Seamans, another neighbor of Stewart's, wrote that Peeples "ran toward me with a gun in his waistband, warning me to never walk my dog down the back road of his property again."
Peeples also had a gun when he threatened a driver trying to deliver concrete to a neighbor in January 2011, Stewart said.
Claiming "the threat of immediate physical violence is real," Stewart wants a restraining order and an injunction ordering Peeples to take down the gates.
She is represented by Elton Brownshadel of Houston.