Wednesday, April 13, 2011

People v. Brunette (Cal. Ct. App. - April 13, 2011)

Michael Vick's got nothing on Robert Brunette:

"This macabre case involves appalling animal cruelty. There are parallels between aspects of it and Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness: cruelty, the abandonment of civilized norms, and apparent madness; remote locations that discouraged outside investigation; and arranged displays of severed heads.

In 2008, responding to a neighbor's complaint, Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority employees and sheriff's deputies visited defendant's property, located deep in the woods in a remote part of Santa Cruz County. They found defendant standing in the midst of a canine charnel house. Some dogs lay dead or dying. Most of the rest, in the dozens, were skin and bones from starvation, suffering from infection, flea-ridden to a life-threatening degree, worm-infested, panting in cages exposed to the remote area's high temperature that day, putrefying with open sores, malnourished, injured, and/or battle-scarred from fights over food. One employee witnessed dog-on-dog predation firsthand. As he stood talking with defendant through a fence, 10 or 15 dogs began to attack another dog, 'just ripping it apart.' Defendant managed to fend off the attacking dogs, then removed the victim dog from the animal control employee‟s sight and pronounced that it was fine. The property exuded odors of excrement and septic putrefaction. The authorities found one dog that they estimated had been confined in a pickup truck cab for a month or more. The truck's windows were closed and the air temperature was in the nineties that day.

Defendant had mounted a display of aligned dog skulls at one location. Over time, the sun had bleached the skulls. At another, defendant had fastened a dog's head to the top of a trimmed tree trunk.
Defendant was operating a dog-breeding facility. He called it Gladiator Cane Corso. A would-be customer, William George Fritz, IV, testified that in 2006 defendant showed him two puppies that were in appalling condition. One of the dogs had swollen and bleeding paws. They had lost much of their hair and were emaciated, with rib cages and backbones showing. Defendant appeared indifferent to their plight. Fritz told defendant that the dogs were dying and defendant replied that he had abandoned them to their fate.

The next day, Fritz went back and rescued the dogs. He paid defendant $200 for each one. The dogs were so weak that he had to carry them to his truck. They were covered with mites, had sores, and smelled bad."

But at least they finally arrested and punished him, right?  Sure.  After about a year.  Before that, "[e]arly in 2007, Fritz complained to various agencies, including the Animal Services Authority, and each entity said that the area of defendant's property did not lie within their jurisdiction."


POSTSCRIPT - And timely.  Since, speaking of convicted sports felons, Barry Bonds was just found guilty of obstruction of justice (but the jury hung on the perjury counts).