Protesters Show; Accused Dog-Strangler Doesn’t
by marcia chambers | Jul 26, 2012 8:23 am
Posted to: Legal Writes
Alex Wullaert, accused of starving and strangling his dog Desmond to death in his Branford apartment, drove by the Elm Street state courthouse yesterday morning where his felony animal cruelty case was supposed to be heard.
He saw groups of Desmond supporters, many with their dogs and their signs, back on the courthouse steps. Many came because Wullaert was due in court at 10 a.m.
But Wullaert did not stop at the courthouse. Instead he turned the corner.
At the last minute on Tuesday night, after court had closed for the day, Wullaert’s attorney, Richard P. Silverstein, called the prosecutor, Joseph LaMotta, to say he needed to continue the case to another day. Why Silverstein made this last minute request is not known, especially since last month’s court session in June was also continued. A judge, learning of Silverstein’s request, granted it. (Click here to read about Wullaert’s May appearance in court.)
But there was no timely public notification of the date change. So many demonstrators who came from out-of-state arrived at the courthouse on Elm St., only to learn that the case had been postponed to Aug.9 at 2 p.m. As of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, the case was still on the docket for that day.
Wullaert, 22, has confessed to Madison police that he strangled Desmond, his boxer-pit-bull mix, to death and threw his body in an icy lake last January. He now faces a felony charge, one that holds five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Besides strangling Desmond, then 6, he has admitted to repeatedly punishing him: hitting the dog with a shoe, spanking him, starving him and locking him a small bathroom for 12 hours a day. Last January, after the disoriented Desmond peed on him, Wullaert admits he went into a rage and strangled Desmond to death with the dog’s own collar.
Wullaert, who has been arrested in the past for violent crimes but never convicted, has applied for a deal under the Accelerated Rehabilitation (A/R) program, which allows charges against first-time offenders to be dismissed after the probation period ends. Whether that request is granted will be up to the court. The prosecutor’s recommendation will also be heard. If he gets A/R, and completes the program and its requirements, he will have no criminal record.
It is likely that legal arguments on A/R will take place next month. Click here to read a story on A/R as it applies to this case.
One of the protest’s organizers, Micah Rapini, who volunteers at the New Haven Animal Shelter and was one of Desmond’s shelter moms, said the protestors will not go away.
“We are only getting stronger,” she said as protestors and dogs alike donned T-shirts in memory of Desmond. Rapini said she wants the courts to act in a meaningful way and by that she means she wants Wullaert to spend time in prison. She has created a Facebook page, entitled Justice for Desmond. Click here to read it.
She and her supporters are well-organized in their efforts to seek the toughest sentence for Wullaert. Many of them volunteer or work part-time at the New Haven Animal Shelter where they met and cared for Desmond.
Wullaert’s girlfriend said she owned Desmond and lived with him and Wullaert for six years until she gave up the dog shortly after she accused Wullaert of strangling her. She later dropped the charges against Wullaert.
She first found Desmond at the New Haven shelter years go. On Jan 19, 2011, she told police she decided to return Desmond to the New Haven Animal Shelter because she claimed the dog “exhibited jealousy toward [her] baby.” She said she hoped that the dog would be adopted by a good family. It was at the shelter that Micah and her friends met Desmond. When Wullaert came to adopt the dog he did not reveal that he had a prior relationship with the dog or its owner, his girlfriend.
After Madison police questioned Wullaert about the death of Desmond he gave a voluntary confession, which was taped. A subsequent necropsy (autopsy) report was completed on Desmond’s body. It was devastating. The necropsy report showed Desmond had broken teeth and hemorrhages on his head, ribs and stomach. The dog’s stomach contained segments of gauze, paper, fabric and plastic tissue, items found in a bathroom where he was locked up for hours at a time.
While Desmond was found in Madison, Madison police did not arrest him because Desmond’s killing took place in Branford. So the Branford police arrested Wullaert, booked him and took his mug shot. He was released with a promise to appear in court Tuesday. No bail has ever been set in the case. He is free on a promise to appear in court when the next court date takes place, assuming it does.
He is charged with animal cruelty as a felony and if convicted could face up to five years in prison. Felony animal cruelty charges are used when a person is accused of maliciously killing or wounding an animal. “I would like there to be a minimum sentence for this real honest to god crime,” Rapini said in an interview.
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posted by: NewHavenJude on July 26, 2012 2:38pm
What a horrible thing this man did! If he hated his dog so much, why didn’t he find a new home for Desmond. Even the shelter would have been better than living with this man. He should not get off lightly for such cruelty. It’s about time we recognize that animals are living beings with feelings & are not pieces of property.