Yesterday King County Superior Court Judge Samuel Chong gave Seattle musician Lynn Sepeda a 364 suspended sentence for repeatedly punching his former girlfriend’s 12-year-old chihuahua so hard he was paralyzed. The sentence also requires Sepeda to spend 45 days in a work release program.
If you aren’t familiar with work release programs, here’s a description from the Washington State Department of Corrections:
“Offenders in work release facilities must follow all program rules. They must search for and⁄or retain employment and will be monitored to ensure compliance. Frequent testing for substance abuse will be administered. Offenders may only leave the facility for work or other specific activities, such as appointments, treatment, shopping, or outings to visit family. Offenders must continue therapy, treatment, programming, and classes. Failure to abide by the rules may result in sanction and⁄or termination from the program.”
The prosecuting attorney had requested a 364 day suspended sentence and 90 days in a work release program.
Given what Sepeda did to Chilly, I think he should have gotten the maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine. Chilly’s owner Gina Mastandrea told the Judge that the vet who treated Chilly said the dog’s injuries were caused by severe trauma similar to being thrown headfirst into a metal pole, shaken violently, or hit by a car.
That deserves more than 45 days in a work release program, don’t you think?
It also deserves more than the maximum sentence of a year in jail but as long as Washington law considers animals property instead of sentient beings I don’t think sentences for convicted animal abusers will get any tougher.
Sepeda’s attorney asked for a sentence of just 20 hours of community service because, she said, Sepeda had already suffered due to “social media attacks” directed at him when he was first charged with animal cruelty. She also said he’s having trouble finding work since his band Hot Rodin’ Romeos his conviction last month.
Before his sentencing, Sepeda told Judge Chong that he “loved dogs” and what he did to Chilly was a “horrible accident” that “wasn’t intentional.”
Because of course there’s nothing intentional about beating a tiny dog. And hitting it so hard you broke its back was just a horrible accident.
Fortunately Judge Chong didn’t fall for the ridiculous ploy. He said what Sepeda did to Chilly “was not an accident” and was “particularly disturbing” that Sepeda was familiar with the dog he almost beat to death.
Judge Chong also required Sepeda to pay for court costs and Chilly’s medical bills which thus far total approximately $15,000 (donors contributed $11,000 through a GoFundMe account). He also ordered an evaluation of Sepeda for alcohol abuse.
Finally, he enacted no contact order that prevents Sepeda from seeing or contacting Chilly’s owner for a year. Gina told me that after she broke up with Sepeda and filed charges against him for beating Chilly he would often try to intimidate her by following her around or sitting across the street of her home for hours.
One thing I don’t get is why the Judge didn’t prohibit Sepeda from having pets even though Gina requested it.
Anyone convicted of animal cruelty shouldn’t have pets, right?
As for Chilly, the vet fused his spine so he can walk short distances although his legs are still stiff and wobbly. He also has a few health problems. You can watch his progress on his Facebook page, Chilly’s Journey Continues.
Thanks to Gina for refusing to be intimidated by Sepeda and following his case through the legal system for the last year.
She filed a restraining order against Sepeda after she reported what he did. She also had to move twice and change jobs.
“I just want him to pay for what he did to Chilly,” Mastandrea told KOMO News. “What he did is wrong and he should not get away with it.”
Speed’s lawyer said he is going to file an appeal to remove the gross misdemeanor from his criminal record. I will let you know if/when that happens.
If he does file an appeal I hope the Judge doesn’t approve it. His conviction should stay on his record as it would send a strong message that Washington will hold convicted animal abusers accountable for their crimes.
Here’s KOMO’s story about yesterday’s sentencing.