An Acworth man who killed a 12-pound dog was enraged over the attention his girlfriend was giving the animal, a Cobb County prosecutor said Thursday.
One time, Sidney Walker Taylor slammed the Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix named Lilly to the ground, knocking out three of her teeth. A week later, he beat Lilly so severely that she died of multi-organ hemorrhage, a necropsy determined.
Now, Taylor, 23, is headed to prison after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. As part of a plea deal, he received a 10-year sentence, including three years in prison, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office said. Taylor is the second dog killer in seven weeks to get prison time in Cobb, where the DA’s office has vowed to fight for the animal victims.
“Our office is putting more time on these cases, and we’re investigating them,” Sherwin Figueroa, assistant district attorney, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We just want to let the public know we’re taking this seriously.”
Figueroa is one of two Cobb prosecutors who focuses on animal rights cases. She has also assisted legislators in making changes to animal cruelty statutes. In Georgia, those convicted a second time of felony animal cruelty face up to 10 years in prison per charge, instead of five years for a first offense, Figueroa said. Since June, Cobb police Det. S. Hammond has been assigned solely to animal-cruelty cases.
Georgia falls in the middle among the states for laws for protecting animals, according to the Animal League Defense Fund. Thirty-six states in the fund’s rankings were tougher on animal abusers in 2015, but Georgia has stiffened the penalties and climbed in the rankings from the previous year.
“Scientific research clearly shows that people who commit animal cruelty often advance to injuring intimate partners, children and the elderly,” Figueroa said. “That is why we put these defendants in prison and monitor them closely once on probation.”
In February, a Kennesaw man was sentenced to five years in prison for throwing his girlfriend’s dog over a balcony and killing it. Lee Bishop Bullock, 28, of Kennesaw, was already on felony probation when he threw the 10-pound dog off the second-floor balcony, the DA’s office previously said.
In the more recent case, Taylor’s girlfriend had temporarily taken in her sister’s dog after the sister had a baby, Figueroa said. Taylor, who had been in the military, lost his job, and his girlfriend was expecting the couple’s first child, the prosecutor said. Investigators believe Taylor became jealous of the girlfriend’s affection for Lilly and claimed to have hurt the dog because she urinated on the floor. Figueroa alleged that Taylor had previously killed three cats, though he was never charged in those cases.
If the case had gone to trial, Taylor could have been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, his attorney, Jay Abt, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was sentenced as a first offender, meaning his criminal record will be cleared when his sentence is completed.
Taylor also must pay a $1,000 fine. He was taken into custody Tuesday in the courtroom and booked into the Cobb jail.