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Jury wants 10-year sentence for dogfighter

A jury in Richmond has found Richard E. Robinson guilty and recommended a 10-year prison sentence — the longest prison term in Virginia’s history for a dogfighting conviction.

The jury deliberated two hours yesterday to reach its verdict, only 40 more minutes before coming back with a recommendation of 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Robinson, 32, was found guilty of three felonies and one misdemeanor related to a dogfighting operation at his South Richmond home.

Richmond prosecutors and animal-control authorities said they are unaware of any dogfighting sentences in Virginia longer than four years. The 10-year sentence, if upheld by Circuit Court Judge Beverly W. Snukals, would be twice as long as any handed down in the state, and more than five times longer than Michael Vick’s federal sentence. Formal sentencing is scheduled for March 5.

The conviction and sentence recommendation came after prosecutor Alex Taylor introduced evidence from the property where Robinson lived with his mother, including heavy chains that had been tied around the necks of dogs to help them build strength.

One of the chains weighed 52 pounds — more than the dog to whom it was attached. The prosecutors brought the chain to court in a red plastic bucket, and while arguing for a lengthy sentence, Taylor carried the pail over to the jury box and dropped it with a thud.

“This,” he said, “is no way to treat man’s best friend.”

Noting that Robinson was convicted of six counts of animal cruelty in May 2005, Taylor urged the jury to impose a lengthy sentence.

The jury convicted Robinson on one misdemeanor count of animal cruelty and recommended one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The panel recommended three years in prison on each of three felony convictions: one count of dogfighting and two of animal fighting.

Authorities recovered 12 dogs — 11 of them pit bulls — from the house when they arrested Robinson in June. Nine of the dogs were euthanized because they were judged to be aggressive, and another was put down because it had facial wounds that had become severely infected.

Comments

Comment from Anne’n'Spencer
Time December 17, 2009 at 4:15 pm

I’m glad they recommended the sentence, and I hope the judge follows through. The only way to deal with this is by tougher penalties.

Comment from J.R.
Time December 17, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Good. Scumbag deserves 10 years. While they’re at it, they should strap him with a heavy chain around his neck as well.

Comment from Hank
Time December 18, 2009 at 8:49 am

Stick it to this guy! He is one of the first prosecuted under the tougher animal fighting law HSUS got passed in 2008. And I heard the VA Animal Fighting Task Force did a lot to guarantee prosecution. My hat is off to all parties that helped in some way, large or small.

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