A Princeton, Minnesota man who videotaped the brutal beating and torture of his girlfriend’s dog received a one-year prison sentence – but he will be out in less than one month because of time already served. KARE 11 reported today that Anthony Sather, 24, kicked, beat, and then fatally shot his girlfriend’s Siberian husky, Draco, but at a sentencing hearing today at the Sherburne County Courthouse, he received only a one-year sentence.
The animal cruelty case sparked up social media this winter and even Judge Thomas Hayes was troubled by the brutality involved, stating that in his 20 years on the bench, he had only had one other case that was as disturbing as this one. Sather’s then-girlfriend, Andrea M. Godfrey, wrote an impact statement about the loss of Draco, but she was too emotional to read it herself. A court advocate read the statement, which said, in part: “This monster seemed so proud of what he did.”
KARE 11 reported in June that Sather plead guilty to the crime and stated: “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.” In December 2014, Sather had taken the 22-pound dog, body-slammed him into the floor, beat him, and then shot the dog to death – all while looking into a video camera. According to the criminal complaint, a citizen had told Godfrey that Draco had been found dead in a ditch last October. Sather initially told Godfrey that someone had “probably mistaken Draco for a coyote and shot him,” but then Godfrey found the video footage of the grisly assault on their computer in mid-December.
Godfrey watched in horror as her beloved dog was dragged from his kennel, punched, and slammed. People cried in the courtroom as the victim impact statement was read, and then Sather read a short apology to Draco’s owner, her family, his family, and the community.
Despite this apology, Judge Hayes called Sather’s actions “vicious, vile, violent, and perverse.” He praised Godfrey for her eloquence – and for her courage in reliving this gruesome attack. Judge Hayes stated that he wished that the law allowed a longer sentence and agreed with the prosecuting attorney that the aggravating circumstances in this case justified an upward departure from sentencing guidelines.
Sather could have received 10 years in prison, but two months ago, he made a deal with prosecutors. As a result of the plea bargain, Sather agreed to plead guilty to several counts of animal cruelty and two drug charges were dismissed.
In today’s hearing, Judge Hayes sentenced Sather to 24 months in jail for animal torture, with a stay of execution. He was also sentenced to 13 months in county jail, and will serve 12 months, with time served. As a result, Sather will be out of county jail in less than one month. In addition, Sather was sentenced to 4 years of supervised probation. His probation conditions include prohibitions against owning or having custody of an animal and using or possessing drugs or alcohol. He will receive regular visits from animal control and law enforcement.
Sather was placed on probation for his drug possession charge, but if he violates that probation, he could receive a 10-year prison sentence. WJON News reported today that Sather would also have to pay more than $300 in restitution.
Within 30 days of his release from jail, Sather will also have to have an additional psychological evaluation, submit to random drug testing, and enter a chemical dependency treatment program. He is further prohibited from using video recording devices and firearms.
While Draco will also have four years of supervised probation, animal advocates are disappointed with the sentence and say that justice was not served. Many are calling for a new law in memory of Draco – and to protect future animals and punish those who abuse them.
The brutality of this case did not go unnoticed by judges or prosecutors, who are likely aware that numerous studies have shown that there an established correlation between animal abuse and crimes against human victims. According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), those who commit violent crimes against nonhuman animals are more likely to commit violent crimes against humans than those who don’t hurt animals.
According to the Justice For Draco Facebook page, 20 supporters showed up at the courtroom to support Draco’s family today – but this is only the start. Justice For Draco noted today that Sather had already been in jail for 225 days, but “…Justice was NOT served for Draco. The Judge did a good job in stating his disgust for Sather’s unspeakable actions, concern for public safety if Sather does not receive counseling, and that he had to work within the law. Some of us will be working on legislation to increase the current felony law penalty to a higher level for horrific acts of cruelty such as this. It will be called ‘Draco’s Law.'”