A man was convicted of animal cruelty today for tossing a small dog to its death on a busy California highway last year.
A jury took less than an hour to convict Andrew Burnett, 27, of felony animal cruelty killing a 10-year-old bichon frise named Leo on Feb. 11, 2000. The dog was grabbed from the lap of his owner, Sara McBurnett, after her car bumped Burnett's vehicle near San Jose International Airport.
The jury began discussing the case at 9 a.m.today and less than a hour later said it had concluded its deliberations. Closing arguments wrapped up Monday, without Burnett ever taking the stand in his own defense.
Burnett could face three years when sentenced on a later date.
In closing arguments Monday, prosecutor Troy Benson asked the jury to hold Burnett criminally accountable.
"It's just an angry man who did a grossly negligent act by throwing this dog into traffic," Benson told the jury.
Dog Owner Relives Seeing Pet Killed
Burnett's attorney maintained that his client instinctively snatched the dog from the car after being bitten on the hand.
McBurnett, a real estate agent from Incline Village, Nev., said that after a minor traffic accident the defendant yelled at her, reached in through her open car window with both arms and grabbed her dog. Soon after, she spotted Leo running across two lanes of traffic, and the dog was struck and killed seconds later.
"What was he thinking when he reached into the car and grabbed that dog?" Benson said in closing arguments.
Defense lawyer Marc Garcia urged the jury to closely consider the requirement of finding gross negligence. He said a decision to find his client guilty of a felony should not be taken lightly.
"This isn't a game. This is real lives, real people," Garcia said.