An Army veteran who served a tour of duty in Afghanistan pleaded guilty Thursday to having sex with his neighbor’s dog last year.

Philip Samual Mercon, 28, who his lawyer said suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because of his military service, pleaded guilty to bestiality, a state-jail felony punishable by up to two years in a state facility.

Prosecutors recommended Mercon be placed on deferred adjudication probation for five years and fined $750. They also agreed to dismiss misdemeanor criminal trespassing and evading arrest charges that stemmed from the same incident in exchange for his guilty plea.

Retired State District Judge George Allen accepted Mercon’s plea and ordered probation officers to compile a background report that will be reviewed before Mercon is sentenced Sept. 18.

Mercon’s attorney, Phil Martinez, said Mercon, a construction worker living in Bellmead, “just wants to get this behind him and go forward with his life.”

“He didn’t want to go through the stress of a jury trial,” Martinez said. “Right now, he is competent, but he is on medication. He is 75 percent disabled with PTSD because of the trauma serving in the military and he is currently under the care of a (Department of Veterans Affairs) psychiatrist. He is making remarkable progress at this time, and hopefully, the judge will consider granting him deferred adjudication.”

In deferred adjudication cases, there is no final judgment of guilt if a defendant completes the terms of probation.

Bellmead police arrested Mercon, who they said appeared to be intoxicated, about 1:30 a.m. July 7, 2018, after a witness reported Mercon was sexually abusing a dog in a neighbor’s backyard in the 2000 block of Montrose Street.

Police found Mercon with his pants down in the backyard with the dog, Bellmead Assistant Police Chief Kory Martin said. He let go of the dog when he saw police and tried to run from officers, Martin said.

There was no evidence that the dog, a medium-sized, mixed-breed male dog, was injured, Martin said.

Martinez said Mercon, who remains free on bail, served three years in the Army before he was honorably discharged. After his arrest, Mercon was evaluated and determined to be competent to face criminal charges, Martinez said.

The McLennan County District Attorney’s Office rejected Mercon’s request to be placed in the office’s pretrial intervention program before recommending deferred probation, Martinez said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill making it illegal to have sex with animals in 2017.

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Staff writer at the Waco Tribune-Herald covering courts and criminal justice. Follow me on Twitter @TSpoonFeed.

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