Prosecutors this week reached a plea agreement with a California man charged with kicking and stomping a dog to death as several of his family members watched.
Gerald James Santema, 38, pleaded no contest Tuesday to the felony animal cruelty charge in a deal expected to put him behind bars for two years. A sentencing hearing is set for November 28.
According to police reports, the toy poodle, Wiggles, was killed May 27. Police say Santema punched, kicked, and stood on the small animal before burying it in a shallow grave on the property.
The dog was reportedly a relative’s pet.
“He kicked the dog and stood on it until it was dead,” said Fresno Humane Animal Services President Brenda Mitchell.
Investigators say Jones never acknowledged a motive for the crime Mitchell called “just awful.”
As part of the plea agreement, charges of inflicting injury on an elderly person were dropped.
Police believe he hit his father days after killing the dog.
The Fresno Bee reported that Jones’ parents and brother were in the courtroom for the plea.
According to the paper, Jones “wiped tears from his eyes” when he saw his family members, who testified against him at the hearing.
Shortly after his June 4 arrest, the Bee reported that the family members present when the animal was killed reported Jones to the sheriff’s department.
Santema’s criminal record includes a no contest plea last year for felony assault. He also has misdemeanor convictions for drunk driving and carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle.
The Bee reported that he also has a history of drug abuse.
[Featured image: Fresno County Sheriff’s Office]