An Army veteran who beat his puppy so severely that it had to be euthanized pleaded guilty to a felony animal cruelty charge and will be sentenced next month to a program that helps veterans suffering from ailments such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder get back into the law-abiding community.
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Phillip Shawn Rich, who suffers from PTSD and a traumatic brain injury, entered his guilty plea Thursday under People v. West, which under California law does not constitute an express admission of guilt, but only a consent to be punished as if the defendant were guilty.
Rich, 26, will be sentenced to the Veterans' Court program on Sept. 21. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the felony charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor, said Rich's attorney, Vikas Bajaj.
Prosecutors will not oppose Rich going into the Veterans' Court program, said Deputy District Attorney Ryan Karkenny.
Bajaj said Rich served six years in the Army and was honorably discharged.
Rich, a Crest resident, was charged in January in the death of his 4- month-old Siberian husky, "Knight."
Rich brought the puppy to a veterinary hospital, but a veterinarian determined that the dog's injuries were so severe that euthanasia was the only humane option.
Finding Rich's version of what happened unconvincing, the Department of Animal Services was notified, and after being interviewed, the defendant was arrested.
At the time, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis called the case "particularly brutal."
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