Brother, sister charged in animal cruelty, drug case

Feb. 05, 2013 @ 06:48 PM

A brother and sister face felony animal abuse and drug charges after they allegedly killed a dog by slicing its throat and were growing marijuana in their house.

Durham County sheriff’s officials said an investigation that began Dec. 29, 2012, with a report of a dog bite resulted in the charges and the discovery of drugs in the defendants’ house.

A sheriff’s animal services officer responded to 2809 N.C. 55 after Nesta Louise Gerberding, 30, called to report that she was the victim of a dog bite, according to Deputy Paul Sherwin, public information officer for the sheriff.

When the officer arrived, he learned the dog had been killed by Nesta and her brother, Kevin Christopher Gerberding, 28, in an apparent act of self-defense after the dog allegedly bit Nesta, Sherwin said.

The officer completed an initial assessment, then turned the investigation over to a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the Animal Services Division due to the potential for criminal charges. Over the next several weeks, Deputy W.L. Pinner determined that Nesta and Kevin had worked together to kill the dog Dec. 29, Sherwin said.

Nesta allegedly told the deputy that Kevin held the dog down while she stabbed it repeatedly in the neck until it died. Nesta said she stabbed the dog after it bit her while she was trying to take food out of the dog’s mouth.

Pinner also learned during the investigation that the dog, a white pit bull mix named Tank, did not belong to Nesta and Kevin. The dog had been left with them by a friend who recently moved out of state.

The dog’s owner, Tamara Somerville, told deputies Tank was not aggressive and was likely provoked into biting someone.

After completing her investigation, Pinner appeared before a Durham County magistrate Jan. 11 and obtained an arrest warrant for Nesta for one charge of felony cruelty to animals. A warrant was also issued for Kevin on the same charge.

On Jan. 29, Pinner and several other deputies tried to serve the warrants at the Gerberding residence. They located Nesta and Kevin at the home and placed them into custody without incident.

While inside the home, deputies saw drug paraphernalia items such as pipes, commonly used to smoke marijuana. Deputies obtained a search warrant for the residence and found marijuana, marijuana plant seeds, heaters, irrigation piping and fertilizer — all of which are commonly used for indoor marijuana manufacturing, according to Sherwin.

Deputies charged Kevin with possession of drug paraphernalia; possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana; manufacturing marijuana; and animal cruelty. He was booked into the Durham County Jail Jan. 29 on the animal cruelty charge and was released hours later after posting a $5,000 bond. He was arrested again Friday on the drug charges after deputies obtained an arrest warrant at the conclusion of the investigation stemming from the results of the search warrant. Kevin posted another $5,000 bond for the drug-related charges and was soon released.

Nesta was arrested and booked into the Durham County Jail Jan. 29 on one charge of animal cruelty. She posted a bond of $5,000 and was released hours later. A warrant for her arrest was issued Jan. 31 for one charge of manufacturing marijuana and she remained at large Tuesday.

Anyone with information about Nesta’s whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 919-560-0900 or Durham CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and successful prosecution of persons wanted for felony charges, and callers never have to identify themselves.