Paul Souter and Shelby Lujan were found guilty on one animal cruelty charge Friday in the death of a 2-year-old dog named Sprocket, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
A jury on Friday found both defendants guilty of allowing an animal to suffer unnecessary cruelty, intentional or reckless negligence, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
The jury remained deadlocked 6-6 on the second count against Souter of intentional infliction of cruelty to an animal. Wagstaffe said it would dismiss the second count against Souter. Sentencing is scheduled for both Jan. 29. The maximum penalty for the convicted count is three years, he added
“Animals never deserve to be taunted or harmed,” said Wagstaffe.
The jury deliberated for an hour Wednesday and all day Thursday. It returned with a verdict 2:45 p.m. Friday, the 13th day of the trial. Wagstaffe said Souter and Lujan remained out of custody after the verdict Friday, and both were out of custody before the trial. Souter was out on $100,000 bond, with Lujan was out on $1,000 bail. Neither will have to return to court until the sentencing hearing.
The DA’s office is still deciding on recommendations to the judge as an appropriate punishment. Wagstaffe said they were thankful to the jury for returning a guilty decision and were satisfied with the case’s outcome.
“People who abuse animals have a vacancy in their heart,” Wagstaffe said.
The DA’s office first charged Souter and Lujan after Sprocket suffered severe burns while in their care and died at a veterinary emergency clinic in 2016. Souter, 29, was taking care of Lujan’s dog at her residence in San Bruno on April 19, 2016, while Lujan, 26, was at school. While in his care, Sprocket suffered severe burns, and Souter told Lujan he accidentally spilled a cup of hot water from a cup of tea onto the dog, the DA’s office said.
Neither of them sought emergency care for the dog despite the severe burns, the DA’s office said.
On May 1, 2016, Lujan brought Sprocket to North Peninsula Veterinary Emergency Clinic in San Bruno; it was determined the dog was suffering third-degree burns on 40% of his body, including chest, genitals, bottom, tail and all four legs and paws, the DA’s office said.
The dog was septic, in shock and the veterinarian was unable to examine him. Sprocket died of cardiac arrest. A forensic examiner said the dog couldn’t have suffered his injuries from spilled water and that the injuries had to be intentionally inflicted, the DA’s office said.
Attorneys for both Souter and Lujan did not return calls for comment.