(KCPW News) An animal cruelty case set to go to trial next week may result in the first conviction under a new animal cruelty law, making it possible for those who torture an animal to be charged with a third-degree felony. Anthony Spidle is accused of severely beating his ex-girlfriend’s dog. Gene Baierschmidt, executive director of the Utah Humane Society, says a felony conviction for Spidle would send a message that animal cruelty is unacceptable.
“What we’re hoping is that the public watches and it sends a message to other people in Utah as a deterrent that if you’re going to torture a dog or cat in Utah, it’s not going to be treated lightly, and you could go to jail for it,” he said.
The trial has been set for next Thursday in Third District Court in Salt Lake City.
Spidle’s attorney, Rhome Zabriskie, says the defense team will argue that Spidle’s conduct merits only a misdemeanor charge, not a felony.
“As we’ve been working this case up for trial, and in anticipation of it going to trial, what we’ve given a lot of consideration to is whether the degree of injury caused to the animal and the depravity on the department of the defendant measured up to the felony standard, as opposed to the misdemeanor standard,” Zabriskie told KCPW.
Zabriskie believes there’s still the possibility of a plea bargain, but is preparing for the case to go to trial.