Calling Puppy Killing “Offensive,” Judge Sentences Slayer to 9 Months in Jail, 5 Years’ Probation
FlaglerLive | May 11, 2015
Just before sentencing Wesley Jackson to nine months in jail and the balance of five years on probation for brutalizing and killing a chihuahua puppy in September, Circuit Judge J. David Walsh said the offense Jackson was charged with “is offensive to everyone that’s heard about this. It’s one thing to see acts that are perpetrated upon other adults and human beings, but to see such acts perpetrated upon a puppy is particularly disturbing.” Walsh described the offense as “quite likely a follow-up to other acts the defendant has committed in the nature of violent acts, prior to this.”
Jackson, a 28-year-old resident of Barrister Lane in Palm Coast, had admitted as much. “He acknowledged lighting an opossum on fire in a trash can four or five years ago,” the state prosecutor said just before the sentencing as he made the case for a full five-year prison term. The prosecutor also cited Jackson’s two prior arrests on battery charges. In 2013, he was jailed for abusing the 911 system. And Jackson’s attorney, Richard Zaleski, conceded that Jackson “has a problem,” though Zaleski asked for five years’ probation rather than prison time. Zaleski mostly got his way: the 270-day jail term is technically considered part of Jackson’s probation, and will be served at the Flagler County jail, a much easier place to serve time than state prison.
Jackson pleaded guilty to animal cruelty after brutalizing a 4-month-old Chihuahua puppy called Little Man at Jackson’s girlfriend’s house, where he had been alone the afternoon of Sept. 16. Jackson. According to his arrest report, he had been at a computer masturbating when the dog interrupted him, looking to be playful with him. The dog was 16 weeks old and weighed 4.5 pounds. Jackson kicked the dog, very likely more than once, the veterinarian who had provided the dog’s vaccines just weeks before–and would conduct the necropsy–said. The dog was dead when its owner, Mark Mitchell, brought it to the animal hospital. (Mitchell and his 14-year-old daughter were not in court today, the prosecution said, because the event had been too traumatic for Mitchell’s daughter.)
“I understand what I have done and I want to see if I can be given a chance to prove myself,” Jackson told the judge as he stood in front of him at sentencing. “What I had done was an accident it was not intentional.”
“Anything else?” the judge asked.
“That’s about it.”
The veterinarian, Erica Mendez of Flagler Animal Hospital, testified Monday afternoon as a witness for the prosecution to lend credence to the the state’s claim that the attack on the doc was intentionally sadistic.
“We see a wide variety of accidental injuries, mostly trauma arising a lot of time arising from owner trauma, being stepped on, being sat on, getting hit by cars, getting run over by bicycles, getting dropped out of arms, dropped out of chairs, vehicles, falling out of buildings, that nature,” Mendez. But the difference between accidental trauma and intentional trauma can be detected. Typically, she said, it’s a matter of severity and circumstances. With Little Man, “we had a lot of trauma involved with him, he had blood coming out of his mouth, he had drowned in his own blood, he reached the more severe category of trauma.” His lungs had collapsed and he had a broken leg, two separate areas of trauma that strongly suggested were the result of separate strikes.
The prosecution said the attack on the dog was “an act that is done for no other reason than the sadistic joy of taking another animal’s life,” and described a callous Jackson after the attack on the dog, though Jackson’s attorney disputed the claim. “he was at the scene rendering aid when the daughter came in, he went to the vet with the family, he left upon their request, because he was being more disruptive I guess” in the family’s presence at the vet’s office, Zaleski said.
Zaleski described much of the veterinarian’s conclusions, regarding the motive behind the trauma on the dog, as “supposition that these were multiple strikes.”
Walsh said he wanted to sentence Jackson in a way that would both punish him and allow him to seek treatment, thus combining five years’ probation with the first nine months at the county jail. Jackson is also to pay $300 restitution to the family (the cost of X-rays and the necropsy), though the judge asked the prosecution whether the family was seeking additional restitution for the value of the dog. The prosecutor said the $300 was all that was asked for. Jackson, on drug-offender probation, is to pay court costs and have no employment that involves contact with animals, or live in any place where there may be pets for the duration of his probation. He is required to get anger management and seek a psychological evaluation.