ST. CLAIRSVILLE -- A St. Clairsville man avoided a court trial yesterday by entering guilty pleas to crimes charging him with killing a former Quaker City resident's dogs during the 2016 deer-gun season.

Michael Chedester, 60, pleaded guilty to two counts of knowingly causing serious physical harm to a companion animal, fifth-degree felonies, for shooting and killing Emmy, a 5-year-old Weimaraner, and Bella, a 6-year-old Doberman, who were owned by Peter Byers.

Belmont County Common Pleas Court Judge John Vavra scheduled Chedester's sentencing hearing for May 22.

Vavra ordered a pre-sentence investigation report be completed and that Chedester be evaluated for placement at the East Ohio Correction Center prior to the sentencing hearing.

The trial for Chedester was scheduled to begin today. He previously confessed to Byers that he shot his dogs and offered to buy him new dogs.

In April, Vavra denied a motion filed by an attorney for Chedester seeking to allow his client to argue he had a right according to Ohio law to shoot the dogs because they were chasing deer on his property.

The charges were reportedly filed under Goddard's Law that protects companion animals.

The dogs were reportedly chasing deer on Chedester's hunting property near St. Clairsville when he shot them.

Chedester faces up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.