Pennsylvania DVM could face death penalty

Charged with murder in shooting of church leader at fund-raiser
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Jul 01, 2008

Wilmington, Del. — A veterinarian, beaten and bruised by churchgoers who subdued him after police say he fired three rounds of ammunition into a crowd of more than 80 at a church fund-raiser May 25, could face the death penalty for allegedly shooting and killing a Delaware church leader.

AAA Animal Clinic owner Monir A. George, DVM, of Whitehall, Pa., is being held without bond at Delaware's Howard A. Young Correctional Institute after Delaware State Police charged him May 26 with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.

Officers were called to a St. Mary Coptic Church fund-raiser at the Christiana Hilton in Newark, Del., about 7 p.m. May 25, says Delaware State Police Public Information Officer Corp. Jeff Whitmarsh. Officers found the victim, 63-year-old Malak Michael of Bear, Del., with a fatal single gunshot wound to his upper chest.

Michael was head of a committee to build a new church. George, 58, had attended the church's services in the past but was believed to have some differences with the church over its policies, which police say may have been a factor in the attack.

When George was taken into custody, Whitmarsh says police found two semi-automatic weapons and about 150 rounds of ammunition in his possession. It was unknown at press time how George obtained the weapons and whether he had a permit to carry them.

After the attack, George and another fund-raiser attendee were taken to a nearby hospital and treated for unspecified injuries.

George was to appear at a preliminary hearing June 3, but Kathryn van Amerongen, his public defender, says he waived his right to the hearing.

The case is being bound over to the New Castle County Superior Court for indictment, a process that could take up to two months. During that time, van Amerongen says the attorney general's office will decide whether George will face the death penalty on the first-degree murder charge.

She says she has not discussed with George what will become of his practice, which state records show was under scrutiny before.

In 2000, the Pennsylvania State Board of Veterinary Medicine filed an administrative disciplinary action against George following an inspection of his clinic in 1998. The inspection came a month after a woman filed a complaint regarding the death of her dog during ear-cropping surgery

The state inspector noted on his March 1998 report that the treatment room at George's clinic was unclean and unsanitary. The report also indicated the presence of outdated medications and poorly maintained medical records involving the dog that died during surgery.

The case was closed in September 2001, and George had a public reprimand added to his permanent board record, was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $500 to the state and $200 in restitution to the dog owner.