On Jan. 13, a judge sentenced a Virginia man with the maximum penalty of five years in prison for burning alive the dog he adopted through Craigslist.
Firefighters battling a brush fire found the remains of the dog, Lucky, in May 2015 next to a can of lighter fluid, nylon rope and a muzzle, The Dodo reports.
"I can't let emotions have any effect on my ruling, but I have to consider the degree of viciousness," said Judge Steven Frucci. "The degree of anger he had to get to to do something like this -- I can't wrap my head around it."
The former Navy gunner’s mate and now convicted felon -- Arthur M. Vieira, 27 -- tearfully expressed remorse, reports The Virginian-Pilot.
“I just want to say I’m sorry,” he said. “I can’t explain what I did. I’m so ashamed of what I did.”
His mother, Evelise Leopoldo, also could not understand why he would do such a thing, telling the court he owned a dog growing up and was good with him.
A psychiatrist who interviewed Vieira in prison, Dr. Thomas Tsao, said, “I think the explanation is probably related to his impulsiveness and ADD.”
He explained Vieira likely lost his temper after feeling threatened by the dog and impulsively punished her.
Prosecutor David Laird called Vieira’s crime “heartless, barbaric, callous and vicious.”
“Lucky was a living being with emotions, personality, feelings. Not a piece of property. How would you rate this in the category of cruelty to animals?
It’s hard to imagine how this could be worse,” Laird said.
Investigators tracked Vieira through a microchip found in the dog’s body.
Initially Vieira admitted he had adopted the dog but claimed he gave her away. Probed further, he changed his story multiple times, saying she ran away from home.
He then stated he punched the dog in self-defense and, thinking she had died, burned her body.
A veterinarian testified there was no evidence to suggest she had been punched. She was also alive and standing, but bound and muzzled when Vieira set fire to her.