Man pleads guilty in dog's brutal death

Plea deal reached in videotaped dog killing

ELK RIVER, Minn. - A Princeton man has admitted his role in the brutal beating and fatal shooting of his girlfriend's dog after striking a plea deal with prosecutors.

Anthony Sather entered guilty pleas to counts of animal cruelty and drug possession, and detailed his role in the crime in Sherburne County District Court Thursday morning. Sather was charged in the death of Draco, a small siberian husky mix that belonged to his girlfriend. He videotaped the ordeal as the dog was slammed to a concrete floor, punched, kicked, severely beaten and then shot. Investigators say Sather then dumped the dog's lifeless body in a ditch.

In Sather's own words, "I beat the dog. I killed the dog. I kicked it and threw it. Hit it pretty hard. I executed the dog with a firearm."

Two additional drug charges were dismissed as result of Sather's plea bargain. He admitted to aggravating factors on the animal cruelty charge, meaning the crime was more serious than normal animal cruelty. That means the judge can depart upward from recommended state guidelines when Sather is sentenced August 17.

KARE 11's Lou Raguse reports that the plea deal, however, calls for one year in jail. That means Sather should serve just 3 and a half more months in jail when considering time he's already served since his arrest in January. Before the plea deal Sather could have faced up to 10 years in prison.

"Three months for the life of that dog, and what that dog experienced, is a slap in the face," said animal activist Michelle Schumack, who protested outside the courthouse.

Sather's attorney Adriel Villareal said the jail term was appropriate, and that Sather has wanted to take responsibility from the beginning.

"That's one thing that's been clear from day one when I met with tony at the jail facility is he has shown great remorse for what he did," Villareal said.

When asked, Villareal said Sather still doesn't know why he tortured and killed the dog. He is receiving counseling in jail and "learning a lot about himself."

The Sherburne County Attorney did not answer any questions following the hearing, including why they would offer such a favorable plea deal when they had so much evidence against Sather.

Dozens of protesters gathered Thursday morning outside the Sherburne County Court complex, carrying signs calling for "Justic for Draco." The case has drawn national attention, and has many calling for harsher penalties for those guilty of animal cruelty.


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