See a UPI report excerpt on Castro's sentence below. The entire article is at the link that follows.
Man gets 25 years for killing dog
Published: Sept. 26, 2009
SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 26 (UPI) -- A Milpitas, Calif., man has been sentenced to more than 25 years in prison for killing his girlfriend's 10-year-old dog, Copper, prosecutors said.
Alex Castro was sentenced Friday for beating Copper to death with a hammer in 2007. His sentence was influenced by two former violent felony convictions, Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith said.
"Despite the defendant's claims he was getting too much time for 'only killing a dog,' he is getting this sentence for the violence in his past," Smith told The San Jose Mercury in a story published Saturday.
Joanie Gonzalez, who owned 10-year-old Copper, a cocker spaniel, said she was "satisfied" with the verdict.
Castro's murder of Copper, the cocker spaniel, will cost taxpayers roughly ONE MILLION TWO HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS ($1,250,000.00) if Castro serves his entire sentence and does not get sick and require special services, and if prison rates do not increase.
Judges sometimes give lengthy sentences as a warning to others that the defendant's offense is considered very grave by the court. All who learn about Castro's lengthy sentence are made fully aware that California will tolerate no animal abuse and murders. Following that logic, what message does it send to police officers across the country to learn that Larry Neal, a schizophrenic heart patient, was secretly arrested in Memphis Shelby County Jail in 2003 and his family was denied records and legal recourse? Does it tell police departments that mental patients don't count like dogs do?
What does it tell lawyers when they learn that The Cochran Firm was not censured at all for committing fraud against Larry's family, having pretended to act as our wrongful death attorneys for 10.5 months while actually doing nothing to file the family's lawsuit against the jail? Does this tell lawyers that it is OK to contract with plaintiffs and trick them to benefit their clients' defendants, who are usually more wealthy? For instance, if you contract with an attorney after a drunk tractor trailer truck driver crosses the expressway and kills your family, would it be OK if the lawyer (secretly a major investor in that trucking company) withheld your lawsuit to spare the trucker's insurance from paying damages?
The lack of due process of law after Larry's demise is the reason my advocacy started. I became aware of gross inequities in the justice system as evidenced by the sentence Alex Castro received for killing Copper compared to wrongful deaths of some citizens. Plenty of people were given lesser punishment than Castro's for killing humans, and some (as in Larry's case) were not even questioned.
"Equal justice"? Some people must aspire not only to be treated equal to other humans in this justice system, but they must also compete for DOG JUSTICE. Mental illness is criminalized in America, and citizens with that health condition are frequently victimized in their communities and in custody. Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill (AIMI), founded after Larry's death, works to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness and advocates for officials to replace imprisoning psychiatric offenders with inpatient and outpatient treatment.
See more about the secret death of a schizophrenic heart patient throughout this blog and at the link below by Pam Wagner, celebrated poet and co-author of "Divided Minds":
Life with schizophrenia/bipolar, Lyme disease, poetry, and art
Incarcerated and Mentally Ill: Larry Neal’s Story http://wagblog.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/incarcerated-and-mentally-ill-larry-neals-story/
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill