POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 21, 2012
Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro says the six-month jail term a state judge handed down Wednesday to the former manager of a Waimanalo dog-breeding facility for 153 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty is "a travesty of justice."
"It sent a message that animal cruelty cases are not taken seriously by the court and diminished the seriousness of the crimes," Kaneshiro said at a news conference Thursday.
Circuit Judge Glenn Kim sentenced David Lee Becker to the six-month term, rejecting the state's request that he serve five consecutive one-year jail terms and pay a $306,000 fine and $370,701 in restitution.
Kim also suggested the state should have charged Becker with one count of animal cruelty rather than 153.
Kaneshiro said his office charged one count of animal cruelty for each of the 153 dogs the Hawaiian Humane Society seized in February 2010 from Bradley Hawaiian Puppies on Mahailua Street.
"When a defendant assaults 153 people, you don't charge one count; you charge for each victim," Kaneshiro said. "Each of the 153 dogs was a victim."
He said if Kim thought any of the 153 charges was not supported by the evidence, it was his duty to reject Becker's no-contest plea.
Kaneshiro said because the dogs can't speak for themselves, Kim should have allowed the people who rescued the animals and cared for them afterward to speak at Becker's sentencing hearing.
Kaneshiro said he took exception to Kim's assertion that Becker, 55, saved the state money when he pleaded no contest to all the charges earlier this month rather than go to trial. Kaneshiro said the state Judiciary incurs court and jury expenses every day, if not for a trial for Becker's case, then for another trial.
Kaneshiro said rather than ask state lawmakers to make animal cruelty a more serious crime with harsher penalties, he said he will focus on asking them to allow for the regulation of so-called puppy mills and the periodic inspection of them.
State Judiciary spokeswoman Marsha Kitagawa said Kim is not able to respond to Kaneshiro's comments because the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from talking about their cases outside court.