A Redwood City man accused of torturing the family’s 4-month-old puppy for a month in front of his young daughter before eventually suffocating the animal pleaded no contest to felony animal cruelty and misdemeanor child endangerment.
In return for changing his earlier not guilty plea, Alan Velete, 32, was promised no more than three years in prison when sentenced Aug. 28. However, defense attorney Naresh Rajan is hopeful his client will be admitted into Pathways, the county’s mental health court.
Pathways was not a part of Velete’s negotiated plea deal but nothing stops the defense from asking for consideration at sentencing, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.
To qualify for Pathways, Velete must prove residency in San Mateo County and have a documented mental diagnosis.
Velete has a history of serious mental health illness and both his treatment and housing were in flux when he committed the “very horrible crime” which was “too weird to be done by a sane person,” Rajan said.
Rajan said Velete’s mental issues don’t excuse his actions but do help explain them.
Prosecutors say Velete, who is on both felony and misdemeanor probation for prior assault and domestic violence convictions, was angry the terrier mix puppy, Lucky, defecated on the floor so he spent a month torturing the animal before killing it. The abuse reportedly included keeping him crated in the bathroom, punching and kicking, feeding him his bipolar medication, taping his mouth shut, spraying household cleaner in his eyes and hanging him in a duffel bag from the shower while he whimpered.
“This was obviously a really serious case and actually quite shocking,” Guidotti said.
Rajan said some of Velete’s behavior, such as feeding him the medication, was a misguided effort to treat the animal.
“On some level, obviously it was not the right thing to do but even his mother who wasn’t particularly friendly to him admitted he seemed to want to help the dog,” Rajan said.
Some of the abuse happened in front of Velete’s 4-year-old daughter which led to the child endangerment charge.
Velete eventually suffocated Lucky and took him away in a duffel bag after which the girlfriend’s mother, who had reportedly been too terrified to contact authorities before, finally called the police to the apartment, according to prosecutors.
Velete remains in custody on $50,000 bail pending his sentencing hearing.
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