Judge gives man mercy instead of jail after dog dies at DeSoto Square mall

jdeleon@bradenton.comApril 2, 2014 

Robinson

BRADENTON -- A 20-year-old convicted of animal cruelty in the death of his dog will not face any jail time.

Dewayne Sunny Robinson's pug died Aug. 11, 2013, after he left it inside a car in the DeSoto Square mall parking lot.

Robinson entered a plea of no contest March 21.

Judge Edward Nicholas sentenced Robinson to six months of community control and two years probation Monday.

Sentencing was rushed to be scheduled before Robinson's 21st birthday Wednesday, so he would still qualify as a youthful offender.

"I will find that Mr. Robinson's remorse is genuine. It's clear to me that he loved that dog," Nicholas said. "It's clear to me that this was a tragically poor judgment on his part, not an intentional act. He has no prior record. Jail time is not appropriate here, given the remorse, given the lack of intent with which this crime occurred, given the facts and circumstances here."

Nicholas also ordered Robinson to complete 150 community service hours, including 100 at an animal shelter.

Before the ruling, Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro questioned Manatee County Sheriff's Deputy Thomas Franklin about the condition of the dog.

"When I got there, the windows and the doors were all locked up, the windows were down maybe an inch and a half or 2 inches," Franklin said. "The small dog was on the passenger side, obviously deceased, and was frothing out of the mouth."

Franklin said the dog's temperature hit the max reading of 110 degrees on his thermometer.

"It was motionless, his chest wasn't going up and down, obviously not breathing," Franklin said. "Once a dog gets to 104, 104.5, and it starts convulsing, it goes into shock or heat shock, it can start having convulsions, and then the brain starts frying from the inside out."

Franklin estimated it took about 10 minutes for the dog to begin to overheat and begin to convulse. The dog likely died in another five minutes, he said.

Animal Services Enforcement Supervisor Joel Richmond was called as an expert witness.

"Based on my review of this case and my past experience and our training, is that in Florida in the heat in the summertime, of course, a vehicle will act as an insulator. Windows are actually designed to keep heat and cool inside the vehicle, so the vehicle can rapidly increase in temperature very fast, anywhere from 30 to 40 degrees higher than what the outside temperature can be," Richmond said. "What's going to happen with a dog inside a vehicle is that he's not going to be able to properly cool himself."

Defense attorney Charles Britt called Robinson's girlfriend, Bryna Wright, to testify on his behalf.

"He would take the dog everywhere. They would go places, go to the park, just like errands he would run," Wright said. "He would just take the dog with him, you know, he enjoyed being with the dog."

Wright owned the dog but was at work at the time of the incident.

Robinson testified on his own behalf.

"I see people leave their dogs in the car all the time, and like I say, I thought it was OK," Robinson said. "I thought it would be fine for the time I went in there."

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012,

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