By Francisco Alvarado
By Trevor Bach
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
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By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
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Campbell had rented the house to Edouard. Edouard doesn't actually deny the number. But he does say there's no way he could have fit 14 pit bulls in his yard: "C'mon now."
A garage band at the house on 20th Street is one thing. A phalanx of pit bulls is another. Pembroke Pines law allows residents to keep as many as three dogs at once. Any more than that, the home is considered a kennel, and code enforcement can issue fines.
About 200 communities in the United States, including Cincinnati, Miami-Dade, and until recently, Denver, outlaw pit bulls because of their supposed ferocity. But neither Pembroke Pines nor Broward County regulates the breed. Indeed, Broward's population of the canines has burgeoned since 1989, when Miami-Dade County banned them. More than 3,100 were registered in 2002, up 65 percent in four years. Pit bulls account for about a fifth of the dog impounds in Broward each year, according to county records.
For Edouard's neighbors, the problem wasn't the pit bulls per se. It was that they suddenly lived next to pit bulls who barked so much that at least three couples -- the Brodericks, the Pelhams, and Leo and Tanya Sanchez -- all called in sick to work one morning for lack of sleep.
Kathy Broderick says she tried diplomacy -- at least with the dogs. She would leave her television on, hoping the sound would help acclimate the animals to people and pacify them. But she recalls an episode in February when she went looking for an opossum that lived under her pool. When she spotted Edouard over the fence in his backyard, she told him she was searching for the critter.
Edouard told her not to worry. The dogs had already shredded the opossum into pieces and strewn them about the yard. It didn't surprise Kathy; she had consistently heard ripping, snarling sounds. "It would just come through your skin," she says.
From the outset, Randy Pelham says, he also tried to be reasonable, but after one night of relentless barking, he nearly hopped the back fence during a confrontation with Edouard. "It turned into a yelling match back and forth," Pelham says. "He basically told me that if I came around the block, something to the effect of, he promised me he would kick my ass."
They eventually managed to hold a civil conversation. At that point, Edouard said he was going to keep the hounds quiet.
The encounter spurred curiosity. "That's when everybody said, 'Who is this guy? What are we dealing with?'" Kathy Broderick says.
Police reports and court papers show that Edouard, born September 2, 1980, has managed to avoid serving significant jail time despite some serious scrapes with the law. He was arrested in February 2002 for driving with a borrowed tag and handing an officer someone else's ID when questioned. The charges were reduced from felony to misdemeanor; he was fined $213.
A year later, Edouard allegedly had sex with a girl a month shy of her 14th birthday, when he was 20 years old. New Times is not naming the victim because of her age. But the police report, dated July 12, 2001, describes a sexual encounter in a private residence on the Seminole reservation in Hollywood that appears unseemly, to say the least. "The victim began to object and wanted the defendant to stop," the report reads. "The defendant began to sexually batter the victim minor by continuing to have penal-vaginal intercourse while the victim pushed at the defendant in an attempt to stop him. After ejaculating, the defendant removed himself from on top of the victim." The court file on that case contains a deposition from a nurse who examined the girl; there were no physical signs of forced sex.
Edouard was first charged with sexual battery on a minor and lewd and lascivious behavior. On December 19, 2002, he pleaded no contest to child abuse, then accepted a year of community control and a year of probation.
This past January, Edouard pleaded guilty to petty theft and got six months' probation. The father of the abused girl accused him of stealing a $1,380 pit bull pup. The girl's father, who says she is a niece of Edouard's wife, Tisha, says he tries "not to associate" with Edouard.
To boot, records indicate that only two of Edouard's dogs were registered with the county. Failure to register animals can draw fines as high as $300 in Broward.
Edouard admits that on paper, he comes off as a thug. "It always looks bad when you type up my name," he concedes. The sexual case was messed up, he says, without offering details. He says he pleaded no contest rather than risk serving time. The dog theft was just a mix-up, he says. His traffic offenses, tickets, and such, well, yeah, those he cops to. But he's all cleaned up, he says.
When he graduated from Hollywood Hills High School five years ago, he had been running with a crowd of guys who fought, robbed -- "all that bullshit." Shortly after that, he met Tisha, a member of the Seminole tribe who was about five years older than he. They married last year, he says, and have had two children -- one after moving here -- together. That brings her total to seven, which makes her eligible for about $336,000 in tribal money this year.