VENTURA, Calif. – A teenager who tortured and mutilated the pet tortoise of an autistic boy was sentenced to nine months in jail and must give up his own animals.
Jose Antonio Mosqueda, 18, of Ventura was sentenced Monday to five years of probation and ordered to pay $5,479 in restitution. He could have received up to three years in prison.
Although he was given 270 days in jail, Mosqueda was credited with 156 days already served and for good conduct.
Mosqueda pleaded no contest in September to felony animal cruelty. Prosecutors said he snatched a 40-pound African spurred tortoise named Bob from a Ventura backyard on July 7, slashed its legs and neck, punctured its shell and threw it against a wall.
The animal is recovering but owner Dorothy Sullivan said the injuries traumatized her 7-year-old son, William, whose first spoken words had been to his pet.
"My little boy is so scared now he fears he will be taken and harmed like the tortoise. I don't know how to make my son feel safe in our home," she said in tearful remarks to the court before the sentencing.
Sullivan said the family was threatened, had to install a $1,000 security system and was looking to move out of the neighborhood.
She also said the family's 12-year-old pet miniature dachshund, Flapps, was poisoned. The dog was euthanized after becoming ill, possibly from ingesting antifreeze. Police were investigating.
Mosqueda's attorney said the defendant wrote apologies to the family. However, the judge rejected his request to reduce the felony count to a misdemeanor.
"He is a first-time offender, and other than a truancy ticket, he has no record," attorney Brian Vogel said. "It seems like this is the kind of conduct that is out of character for him."
"He is definitely remorseful about what happened," Vogel said.
Mosqueda was given 270 days in jail but credited with 156 days already served and for good conduct in jail.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Bruce Clark said Mosqueda may not have access to any animals, which means he will have to give up his pet iguana, dog and snake.