By Lorena Mongelli and Jackie Salo
May 15, 2019 | 12:56pm | Updated
Ellie Knoller and wife Jessica Kuncman were arraigned Wednesday in court. A Goldendoodle named Bella (left) was allegedly abused in their care.
Ellie Knoller and wife Jessica Kuncman were arraigned Wednesday in court. A Goldendoodle named Bella (left) was allegedly abused in their care. Victor Alcorn
A Long Island man and his wife brought three lovable puppies into their Mineola home, where the husband viciously beat the pooches while his spouse did nothing — leaving two dead and another fighting for her life, according to prosecutors.
Jessica Kuncman, 30, and Ellie Knoller, 29, were hit with charges stemming from the torture of their three dogs, one after the other, each beaten within days of being brought back to their Mineola home.
The couple — who has been married less than a year — pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Nassau County Court to the heinous crimes, which prosecutors describe as “serial” animal abuse.
“In my 28 years as a prosecutor, I have never seen a case where someone committed this kind of serial violence against different puppies,” said Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas.
Prosecutors said the pair adopted the first pup, a male shepherd mix named Tucker, on Feb. 8 from North Shore Animal League — but nine days later the new pet was dead from a kidney rupture as a result of Knoller’s “blunt force trauma to the dog.” Tucker suffered from extensive internal bleeding and died.
The very next day, the couple purchased a Goldendoodle named Cooper from a Pennsylvania breeder. But the designer dog — which can fetch as much as $3,000 from a breeder — was dealt a similar fate.
Three days after his adoption, Cooper bled to death from internal injuries, which were the result of being pummeled by Knoller, according to prosecutors. He suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest from the disturbing abuse.
On Feb. 20, Knoller allegedly brought the puppy into Garden City Veterinary Care in cardiac and respiratory arrest.
By the time a veterinarian examined Cooper he had already died.
Knoller then returned to the same breeder days after Cooper’s death and complained he was sold a sick animal. He was given another Goldendoodle named Bella from the same litter.
The couple’s lone surviving dog was then allegedly choked, beaten and suffered several broken bones. The shaggy pooch was left with injuries that total more than $18,000 in medical bills — including broken ribs, a forearm fractured in two places and a pulmonary contusion, according to the Nassau County SPCA.
“I’ve never ever seen a case of serial animal abuse like this. Basically serial murder of an animal,” said Gary Rogers, the SPCA’s president, outside the court. “It’s just wrong.”
Both newlyweds were charged Wednesday with over-driving, torturing and injuring animals. Knoller also faces a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.
Knoller and Kuncman face a max of two years and one year, respectively, if convicted on the top count.
“I don’t know why this happened and unfortunately the dogs can’t tell us,” Singas said. “Maybe there are anger issues. Maybe it’s some kind of sick sport.”
Judge Meryl Berkowitz ordered the couple Wednesday not to have any pets during the trial.
“The defendants are not allowed to have any kind of animals — not a dog, not a cat, not a bird, not a goldfish,” Berkowitz said.
The pair were released without bail but had their passports taken away. They drove off in a Range Rover without commenting.