Florida Man Charged With Strangling And Cooking Family Puppy

130630001605-thomas-elliot-huggins-story-topIn Florida, Thomas Elliot Huggins, 25, has been charged with strangling a family puppy, chopping it into pieces and cooking its ribs on the stove. In this case, however, he could face significant jail time unlike many other cases where such cruelty is treated as a misdemeanor. However, there is a statutory interpretative issue that could present a novel defense challenge.

Huggins had strangled the 5- to 6-month-old puppy and chopped it into quarters, storing pieces in the freezer for future meals.

Huggins reportedly recently became religious and has been speaking in odd ways.

What is interesting about the law is that the line between a misdemeanor and a felony seems rather ambiguous.

Here is the statute:

828.12. Cruelty to animals

(1) A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both.

(2) A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.

Section 1 includes killing an animal. However, Section 2 covers such killings “cruel” deaths or inflicting “unnecessary pain or suffering.” How does that play out in a given case? Is strangling a puppy more cruel than stabbing it or beating it? The law seems to presuppose a difference but does not define it. For example, the first section include overloading an animal which would result in death over a long period as a misdemeanor. That would seem a possible basis for a challenge in cases, but I have not seen a published opinion on it.

Huggins has been charged with a third degree felony. For a felony of the third degree, by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years.

19 thoughts on “Florida Man Charged With Strangling And Cooking Family Puppy

  1. A article about law using the words “interpretive issues” and ambiguous! I am shocked i tell you!

  2. That kind of cruelty happens every day as the piglets are prepared for foods in the food factories around the land.

    But for the most part they are not prosecuted because everyone is doing it.

  3. His mother snitched him out. That’s a bit surprising. Tells me this guy has issues more serious than this.

  4. What’s the big deal? Beloved Fearless Leader Obama had the wisdom to eat some bbq doggie meat. Perhaps this was one of the contributing factors to him being such a world citizen and rising to the (he considers) throne of Leader of the FREE World. If I were this guy’s defense attorney I’d bring this admission into evidence and that the plurality of voters re-elected him – with this knowledge at hand. Good enough?

  5. Beasts indeed……
    I think it’s really important to inflame to the maximum everyones emotional aversions to what may be the actions of a mentally ill man. That will keep everyones inner beast fed for a good long while….and accomplish…oh I dunno what….

  6. It is a dog eat dog place. But this dog wants to add another development in the Voting Rights Act case decided the other day. It is a topic yet to be published as a topic here. The New York Times did an Editorial today.

    When five justices of the Supreme Court disabled the Voting Rights Act last Tuesday, they left it to Congress to find a new formula to restore one of the great landmarks of equality and once again protect the nation’s most fundamental democratic right. That is unlikely for the moment given Congressional dysfunction, as the justices certainly knew, but it is hardly impossible in the months and years to come.
    What is needed now is a new coalition — as loud and as angry as the voices of 1965 — to demand that Republican lawmakers join Democrats in restoring fairness to the election system. Discrimination at the ballot box continues and is growing.
    It comes in more forms than it did a half-century ago, but it is no less pernicious. Instead of literacy tests, we now have rigid identification requirements. Instead of poll taxes, we now have bans on early voting, cutbacks in the number of urban precincts, and groups that descend on minority districts to comb the registration rolls for spelling errors.
    These measures, largely undertaken to reduce Democratic votes in the Obama period, have a direct impact on minority voters in dozens of states. But they also affect the poor of all races, older people, students and legal immigrants, increasing the need for expanded legislation.
    Fortunately, the court did not throw out Section 5 of the act, which allows the Justice Department to invalidate discriminatory voting practices, but it got rid of the formula that determined where the department could act. That leaves Congress and the Justice Department several ways to restore the government’s jurisdiction.
    The department can still use Section 3 of the act to get states or cities back into its jurisdiction, allowing it to judge election changes. To do so, though, it must show clear intent of racial discrimination, which is easy to hide. Congress should revise that section to allow coverage when a state makes a voting change with a disparate racial impact, not just discriminatory intent.
    Section 2 of the act also gives the department or private citizens the right to sue any local or state government for an improper election practice. These kinds of legal actions, though expensive and difficult, are likely to become the principal tool for enforcing voting rights, and the department needs to gear up to fight many more of them.
    The day after the court’s decision, in fact, a group of black and Hispanic Texas residents filed a Section 2 lawsuit in Corpus Christi to stop the state’s revived voter ID law. Texas was one of five states that triumphantly used the Supreme Court’s decision to move ahead on ID requirements that had previously been blocked. Congress has the power to make these suits easier to file — one way, for example, would be to allow plaintiffs to show that a practice diminishes minority voting rights, a standard in the now-paralyzed Section 5.
    Congress can still make Section 5 usable again with new rules for inclusion. For example, it could require pre-clearance for any state found to have violated a federal election law in the last few years, which would include most of the Southern states along with many others. At a minimum, all states and localities should be required to disclose on the Internet any voting change, allowing citizens and Washington a chance to raise concerns.
    The most fundamental change Congress could make would be a law declaring a universal right to vote that could not be infringed by any level of government. The Voting Rights Act was aimed at combating discrimination “on account of race or color,” which was the urgent problem of the time. Discrimination has now broadened to encompass more groups of different kinds, and it is time for a broader law, especially given the Supreme Court’s clear intent to dismantle all racial protections.
    That is not just a liberal fantasy, either. It was encouraging last week to hear several House Republicans, including the majority leader, Eric Cantor, say they were interested in restoring protections to voting. One of them, James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, put the challenge well: “This is going to take time and will require members from both sides of the aisle to put partisan politics aside and ensure Americans’ most sacred right is protected.”


    I’m going to reinforce the amazement of the Dog Pack here regarding the lack of some kind of thread on the SCOTUS voting rights decision. I assumed the Professor was out of town doing legal duties and would this week refer us to an article he had written or provide some form of commentary- or hand it off to a guest blogger to do over the weekend- but that’s apparently not the case.

    A decision right up there with Citizens United in magnitude regarding the damage done to the democratic process and … nothing? I have had to go elsewhere for learned comment(s) on the ruling. I am amazed. I do not understand. TurleyBlawg is all things to all people so how can this be? Did I mention I am amazed?

  8. Like several said, I am not sure why killing a pig gets you a barbecue party but killing a dog gets you in prison. This is completely subjective. Some have pigs as pets. I am not very favorable to killing animals in the first place, but if pigs and cows and chickens etc are fair game, I don’t see any basis for granting dogs extra protection.

  9. Hi, Jonathan-

    I am with commenter Dredd on this. The statute you post describes daily slaughterhouse activity in the U.S., with U.S. slaughterhouse laws not even reaching the countless overseas sources of meat the come into the U.S.

    Eating dog is no more barbaric than eating cow or pig, lobster and crabs steamed or boiled to death, chickens plucked while alive, and fish scaled while alive.

    Go to PETA.org to learn the many cruel ways used to get meat to your plate (and where those cow electric stun guns get placed) at a low dollar amount to consumers.

    Ketchup anyone?

    Be well. Jon


    JON KATZ, P.C.

    Criminal Defense Lawyer

    Practicing in VA, MD

  10. This reminds me of this:Nathan Rebukes David
    (Psalm 51:1-19)

    1And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.

    2The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:

    3But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.

    4And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.

    5And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 6And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

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