Alexander Gerth, 23, was hit with three to six years in prison for killing Sterling, a 2-year-old pit bull mix from the Michigan Humane Society who was found dead in a park in Utica in January after he was stabbed and left to die.
The sentencing guidelines for Gerth, on the charge of killing and torturing an animal, were two to 21 months. But Macomb County Judge Richard Caretti said he could not "in good conscience" abide by that agreement, and subsequently handed Gerth the tougher sentence.
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"In my almost 17 years on the bench your case is by far the worst, most deplorable example of animal cruelty I've ever seen," Caretti told Gerth, according to Fox station WJBK. "Words are inadequate to express the depth and breadth of your cruelty."
The judge continued, "Statistics show [famous] killers ... started down their path to infamy by abusing and killing animals. Let's hope my sentence discourages you from such behavior. ... But in your case [with the old animal cruelty sentencing legislation] - it may not be enough."
Around 40 animal lovers in the courtroom burst into applause at the sentence on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old told the judge that "looking back I realize there were better ways of handling this situation."
"Respectfully, I want people to know and understand that I did not do this with some kind of sick, twisted, premeditated motive, as which was said before," he continued. "If I could go back and do this differently I would."
When Gerth first applied to adopt Sterling from the Michigan Humane Society, he was denied because of his living situation, WJBK reported. He convinced his former roommate to try to adopt Sterling, who then moved into Gerth's apartment.
The former roommate told investigators that Gerth once bragged to him about how badly he beat the dog to the point it urinated and defecated "all over the place."
The Michigan Humane Society said in a statement in court that Gerth's actions were "senseless, calculated and malicious" and "did not affect just one person or one animal. His brutal actions impact our community, and the animal welfare community as a whole."
Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said in a news release that Gerth had a criminal record prior to the death of Sterling, which included a bank robbery in Illinois.