Updated 06/14/2011 03:19 PM
Judge hands down tough sentence in first Susie's Law case
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YANCEYVILLE, N.C. – A Caswell County judge handed down the toughest sentence possible under Susie's Law. This case was the first animal cruelty case to be heard since tougher penalties were put in place nearly a year ago. Supporters of the new law say the judges sentence is a step in the right direction.
Sheriff's officers say, in January, Jimmy Lee Spears, Jr. starved his three pitbulls to death. An animal control officer found the dogs chained inside a doghouse. His case is the first case tried under Susie's Law.
“We were very pleased to see that the legal system, the court system in Caswell County and Mr. Bradsher took it seriously enough to prosecute this case to the fullest extent,” Susie's Law Supporter Roberta Wall said.
Spears pleaded guilty to all three counts killing an animal by starvation. And then it was left to Judge Osmond Smith. Before sentencing him, Judge Smith held up pictures of the dogs and told Spears, he hopes those photos haunt him for the rest of his life, he then sentenced him to the maximum amount.
“He enforced the law,” District Attorney Wallace Bradsher said. “He gave the max aggravated under the Class "H" new Susie's Law consecutive. So he'll serve an active sentence for one dog, after that he'll start an active sentence for the other dog and when he finishes that he'll serve an active sentence for the other dog. So I think it's a great day for Susie's Law.”
Spears will serve five to six years for his crimes. Susie's Law supporters say this sets a precedent and sends a message.
“And we hope that it sends a message across North Carolina that if anyone abuses an animal, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law which has been toughened since Susie's Law,” Wall said.
In an earlier motion, Judge Smith heard arguments for and against the constitutionality of Susie's Law. He decided to dismiss the motion and rule that the new law is constitutional.