Darick Stallworth of St. Louis, who pleaded guilty to three counts of felony animal abuse and torture and two counts of animal abuse and abandonment, was sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday morning. This marks the first successful felony prosecution in St. Louis since the city has stepped up efforts to fight animal abuse.
Back in May, Randy Grim, the owner of Stray Rescue of St. Louis was contacted by police about a dead dog that was hanging from a second-story window of an abandoned apartment building. When Randy and other members of Stray Rescue checked out the apartment building with police they found five dead dogs, all of which had clearly been tortured.
The five deceased pit bull dogs had been hanged, strangled and burned. Stray Rescue, which responds to many animal abuse cases described the scene as “one of the most horrendous cases of animal abuse we have ever encountered.”
Defense attorneys for Stallworth petitioned the judge for leniency and asked for only probation because 31-year-old Stallworth has an IQ of only 54 and has never been in trouble before. Stallworth’s parents believe sending him to prison serves no purpose and that he needs counseling and rehabilitation.
Many supporters of Stray Rescue showed up to the courthouse for the sentencing. Grim said the sentencing was “a start” and added, “This case will haunt me for the rest of my life. It’s ingrained in my brain forever and it’s like a nightmare that’s always in the back of your mind.”
The severity of this case, along with other animal abuse cases in St. Louis, has led to the creation of the St. Louis Animal Cruelty Task Force. Their goal is to raise awareness, increase convictions and deter future animal abuse. Grim whose rescue organization was a key member to the creation of the task force stated, “This is a new day in St. Louis, and I want to see this become one of the most humane cities in the country, not just with the animals but with each other.”