Florida Keys

Key Largo man convicted of animal cruelty in dog beating

Todd Alexander, the Key Largo man accused of beating his female dog last summer so severely that the county’s animal control department euthanized her, was convicted Friday on a felony aggravated animal cruelty charge.

Aggravated animal cruelty carries a maximum sentence of five years. But since Alexander has been in county jail since September, he will get some credit for time served. However, he also has a probation violation for felony marijuana possession, so that could tack on another five years, said Assistant State Attorney Jonathan Raiche, the lead prosecutor on the case.

A six-person jury found Alexander, 37, not guilty on another aggravated animal cruelty charge, a charge of carrying a weapon while committing a felony and an animal cruelty charge.

Raiche added that he is happy with the jury’s decision. When the State Attorney’s Office originally charged Alexander, it was only for one count of felony aggravated animal cruely.

But the Public Defender’s Office wanted prosecutors to submit a bill of particulars, which is a detailed list of accusations against a defendant. Raiche said if he didn’t file separate charges, he would have to base the sole aggravated animal cruelty charge by proving Alexander beat his dog, ducted tape the animal, put her in a bag and delivered her to Gun Club Road, where she was found July 22, 2014. Raiche said his main goal all along was to prove Alexander beat the dog, a mission he said the state accomplished.

The dog, a pit bull, was found — and briefly saved — by Daniel Rossler of Key Largo. Hediscovered the abused dog, stuffed in a plastic bag that morning while driving along Gun Club Road, which is on the ocean side of U.S. 1 around mile marker 101.5.

Rossler unwrapped the duct tape and gave the dog, named Diamond, water while waiting for theHumane Animal Care Coalition, the county's animal control agency in the Upper Keys.

Marsha Garrettson said at the time that her veterinarian concluded the dog had been shot in the back of the head, and the bullet went on to damage the animal's nasal passage. The duct tape was fashioned around the dog's neck in a way that would eventually asphyxiate her.

Diamond may not have been shot, it turns out now. Alexander’s then-girlfriend, Lisa Perry, testified Thursday that Alexander beat the dog with a socket wrench, the repeated blows of which caused the puncture wound that the vet thought resembled a bullet wound.

Diamond began bleeding from the nose and mouth the next day, and Garrettson determined she should be put down to end her suffering.

Alexander pleaded not guilty. He said Diamond ran away in June 2014, and he never saw the dog again.

During the trial Thursday and Friday, Public Defender Matthew Matteliano argued that there’s no way the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office could prove Diamond was the same dog that belonged to Alexander. He also said the Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into the dog’s death only after a story appeared on KeysInfoNet.com on Aug. 22, 2014.

“That was the only time the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office became interested in the case, when the public became interested in the case,” Matteliano said.

He also criticized Sheriff’s Office Detective Robert Dosh for basing his arrest of Alexander solely on Perry’s statement that she saw her now-ex-boyfriend beat Diamond.

“The only thing Detective Dosh did was talk to Lisa Perry and believe everything she said,” Matteliano said.

Judge Reagan Ptomey is scheduled to sentence Alexander on Tuesday, Sept. 1 at 8:30 a.m.

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