Crime

He beat his girlfriend’s bunnies to death. But it was the beer that made more trouble

Francisco Velasquez
Francisco Velasquez

A Palmetto man who violated his probation for 2014 animal cruelty and battery convictions after killing his girlfriend’s pet rabbits was sentenced to jail time followed by probation.

Francisco Velasquez, 39, last April was charged with violating his probation following an arrest on April 7 for domestic battery after the same girlfriend reported he had thrown a beer at her during an argument. His girlfriend later, however, refused to cooperate, with prosecutors and they were forced to drop the domestic battery charge.

Despite the charge being dropped, Circuit Judge Susan Maulucci ruled in December he was still in violation of his probation.

On Wednesday morning, Velasquez appeared before Maulucci and was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in the Manatee County jail and given credit for time served. Velasquez had been held without bond at the jail since his April 7, 2016, arrest on the domestic battery charge.

Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro, however, had recommended that Velasquez be sentenced to serve four years prison, saying that he was already given a chance when he was given probation time after “act of terror.” But defense attorney Thomas Beach argued he had already served two years jail time, which was more than sufficient.

Maulucci also ordered Velazquez serve a year of probation during which he have no unsupervised contact with any domestic animals. Chittaro objected, after having also recommended he have no contact, care, control or custody of any domestic animals.

Beach argued on Velasquez’s behalf, after Velasquez told the judge that his now fiancee had recently purchased a $2,000 puppy.

Maulucci also ordered Velasquez to make an appointment with Centerstone for a psychological evaluation within five days of being released from jail and that he take whatever medication is recommended.

On Oct. 21, 2013, Velasquez got into an argument with the woman and began cursing at her, pushed her and threatened to kill her and snap her neck. He then walked over to her pet rabbits’ cage, opened it, took out one of the rabbits and beat the rabbit with his fist until it was dead. Velazquez dropped the dead rabbit on the ground and took out the other rabbit and did the same.

After his initial arrest, Velasquez said, “That’s fine, when I get out, she will get hers,” as he was being taken to the jail, the arresting deputy reported.

In April 2014, he pleaded no contest to the one count of battery and two counts of cruelty to animals and was sentenced to just under a year in jail followed by two years probation.

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