Villager decorated for Vietnam service cleared in altercation over dogs

James Nally in 1967 at Fort Campbell, Ky.

A decorated Vietnam veteran has been cleared after an altercation over dogs this past November near his home in The Villages.

An attorney for 70-year-old James Joseph Nally, of the Village of Rio Grande Villas, had prepared to go to trial to prove her client’s innocence. After the jury had been selected and as the defense attorney was preparing to make an opening statement, the prosecutor’s office abruptly announced it was dropping the case.

“This is a very unusual event. The State Attorney’s Office normally does not drop charges in the middle of a trial,” said attorney Gail Louise Grossman, who represented Nally.

She said Nally, who has no previous criminal history, was defending himself on the day he was arrested.

Nally was out with a female friend and her Tibetan Terrier when they walked past a residence where a 47-year-old unemployed man was living in his aunt’s house, Grossman said. As they passed the man’s home, he let his dogs out of the garage and they ran toward Nally, the woman and the leashed Tibetan Terrier. The former Green Beret stepped in between the dogs. Grossman said Nally was punched four to five times in the head and then responded in self defense.

“James Nally was treated so unfairly by the criminal justice system. He never should have been arrested for any crime,” Grossman said.  

Nally was awarded the Bronze Star Medal Certificate for Meritorious Achievement in ground operations while battling hostile forces from Jan. 1 to Aug. 3, 1968 in Vietnam.