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CA Press: Tortoise torturer sentenced

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Wed Nov 7 07:11:11 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  

VENTURA COUNTY STAR (Ventura, California) 06 November 07 Man who tortured tortoise sentenced - Mother of boy who owns pet speaks in court (Raul Hernandez)
A judge on Monday sentenced Jose "Tony" Mosqueda to 270 days in jail and five years' probation for the mutilation and torture of a tortoise that belongs to a 7-year-old autistic boy.
As part of the conditions of his probation, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Bruce Clark said Mosqueda may not have access to any animals, which means he will have to give up his pet iguana, dog and snake.
After the sentencing, prosecutor Wendy Macfarlane said that Mosqueda could go to prison if he violates the terms of the probation.
"That means if he is caught being around an animal or having access to an animal then he is going to be in violation of his probation terms, which could subject him to more time," she said.
The 40-pound African spurred tortoise was abducted July 7 from its owner's backyard, slashed and later dumped behind an apartment complex in Ventura.
Mosqueda, 18, has served 110 days in jail and has 55 days of good-conduct jail credit.
The judge ordered him to pay $5,479 as restitution for veterinary expenses and a security system the Sullivan family of Ventura installed in their home because of alleged death threats.
Macfarlane said the sentence wasn't inappropriate, but she would have preferred that Mosqueda serve more time behind bars. Mosqueda could have received up to three years in prison.
"I don't think it's too lenient. I think it sends a strong message to the defendant as well as to the public," said Macfarlane.
Mosqueda's lawyer, Brian Vogel, said the sentence is a little harsh.
"He is a first-time offender, and other than a truancy ticket, he has no record," Vogel said. "It seems like this is the kind of conduct that is out of character for him. We were hoping that the judge would reduce it to a misdemeanor."
He said that, politically, it's difficult for the judge to reduce the sentence because of media coverage and the emotional component of this case.
Vogel said his client sent a written apology to the Sullivans and wrote a letter to the boy.
"He is definitely remorseful about what happened," said Vogel. "He isn't proud of what happened. I don't think we're going to see anything like that again."
Before Mosqueda was sentenced, the boy's mother, Dorothy Sullivan, tearfully gave a victim's impact statement to the court while Mosqueda stood inside a large metal cage, which is used to detain inmates in the courtroom.
Sullivan said the family is having a difficult time trying to make sense of what Mosqueda did. She described how it affected her son, who she said is now very fearful.
Sullivan said the tortoise, named Bob, and her son were very close, and the animal was able to get her son to speak after years of silence.
"In one day, you took that away," she told Mosqueda. "The first time I heard my son speak was with Bob. ... What brought you to our house? I don't know you."
Sullivan said her son and her husband, Bill, have been threatened. Recently, the family's pet dachshund dog, Flapps, was poisoned.
"I've been told I am going to be shot in the head and so is my defective child," she told Mosqueda. "My dog was killed. ... I held her in my arms, and she died."
Sullivan told the judge that Bob, whom she described as a "gentle giant," was stabbed more than 22 times, his throat slashed and the bottom of his feet cut.
"You did it in front of the neighborhood children," she told Mosqueda, who lowered his head. "You threw Bob against a brick wall after you stabbed him."
The Sullivans said they are looking for another place to rent and want to move out of the neighborhood as soon as they can.
Sullivan said she has had to pay $1,000 for a security system to protect her family. She said her son had a birthday Sunday, but he couldn't invite friends over because it is not safe.
"And why are your friends after us?" she asked Mosqueda.
The Sullivans had asked the court to allow restitution of more than $1,000 in veterinarian fees to treat the dog.
Macfarlane, however, said later that there is no evidence that Mosqueda had anything to do with the dog's death. The judge also denied the $1,000 veterinarian fee.
The Sullivans were in court along with friends, animal lovers and activists. Sullivan gave the judge a petition with 3,600 signatures asking him to give Mosqueda a harsh sentence.
Man who tortured tortoise sentenced


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>> Next Message:  RE: CA Press: Tortoise torturer sentenced - wbcrows, Wed Nov 7 20:23:17 2007