|Who, age||What||Where||When||Last Known Address|
|Marc Christopher Vincent, 36||beat dog||
Salt Lake County
|May 8, 2006|
|Marc Christopher Vincent, 36||placed it in a 200-degree oven||
Salt Lake County
|May 25, 2006|
|Type of Crime||Other Crimes||#/Type of animal(s) involved||Case Status||Next Court Date /Courthouse|
|Misdemeanor||repeated animal cruelty||1 6-month-old Chihuahua/dachshund mix||
|3rd District Court|
Thirty-six-year-old Marc C. Vincent has been charged with 2 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals on two separate incidents in May.
Court documents say Vincent admitted to chasing and cornering the dog with a leaf blower and hitting the dog in the face causing it to have a swollen eye.
Court records show that several weeks later, Vincent's wife found her dog with burned paws. Vincent had placed the dog in a 200-degree oven for 5 minutes.
Henry survived and is recovering at the Cottonwood Animal Hospital. Henry's eye had to be removed.
Update 7/7/06: Henry continues to suffer from the burns he received.
Vincent has been charged with 2 class A misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
(Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Utah - Henry lost one eye and suffered burns to his chest & his front legs - his claws were fused together and cannot walk without a limp)
Update 9/19/06: Vincent plead guilty in court to one of two counts of aggravated animal cruelty.
A Humane Society of Utah official called people like Marc Vincent, who torture animals, "scumbags" and called for the public to push the courts for the maximum sentence possible when Vincent is sentenced Nov. 6.
The maximum possible penalty for a class A misdemeanor is one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. A second charge of animal cruelty was dropped in exchange for the one guilty plea.
Outside the courtroom after the hearing, defense attorney Tera Haynes said her client asked her to issue a public apology on his behalf to his estranged wife, the dog and the public.
"He's ready to take his consequences," Haynes said, noting her client admits what he did "was a mistake."
Vincent "has a problem emotionally with anger" and is enrolled in a class to learn to control his anger, she said.
Vincent wore dark sunglasses and trembled as he stood next to his attorney.
The Humane Society of Utah is encouraging all residents to send a letter or e-mail to either 3rd District Judge William Barrett or the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office asking that Vincent receive the maximum penalty.
To contact prosecutors or 3rd District Court about the Marc Vincent animal cruelty case, write to:
• E-mail: email@example.com
• District Attorney for Salt Lake County, 11 E. Broadway #400, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
• Judge William W. Barrett, 450 S. State, P.O. Box 1860, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-1860
"Some may shrug their shoulders and say it's just a dog. But tomorrow it could be a woman or a child," said Humane Society Executive Director Gene Baierschmidt, who noted that many notorious serial killers started off by torturing animals.
"Put pressure on the district attorney and the judge to give the harshest penalty under the current law," he said.
Baierschmidt said he was pleased and surprised with Vincent's guilty plea.
(Photo of Marc C. Vincent, courtesy of The Deseret News)
On May 25, Vincent, who had been arguing with his wife, chased her dog, a Chihuahua-mix less than a year old, he then put the dog in an oven set at 200 degrees.
He took the dog out once but then put it back in, according to court records. The dog was in the oven a total of about five minutes.
Since his arrest, Vincent's wife has filed for divorce.
In addition to pushing for the maximum penalty in this case, Baierschmidt said he will also push for a bill during the next legislative session that would make animal cruelty a felony.
Baierschmidt said he did not know of any animal cruelty case in Utah that resulted in a person in Utah actually spending any time in jail.
"We're trying to tell people it's a bigger issue. There's a large body of evidence that shows cruelty to animals and violence to people are linked," he said.
The proposed bill would deal specifically with torture, or prolonged agony over a period of time, which is what Baierschmidt said happened exactly in this case.
But most importantly, it would require the convicted person to receive psychological counseling, he said.
Already, he said, his office, the district attorney's office and the court have received hundreds of e-mails and letters voicing concern over the Vincent case.
Vincent was ordered to report to Adult Probation and Parole for a pre-sentence report to be completed before his next court date.
Update 11/7/06: Henry the dog made an unusual appearance in 3rd District Court.
Animals are usually banned from courtrooms. But the black Chihuahua mix's visible burn scars and missing left eye articulated the torture inflicted by Vincent .
Calling the conduct "horrendous," Judge William Barrett sentenced Vincent to six months in jail, a mental health evaluation, a $500 fine and $986 restitution. During 24 months of probation, Vincent also will be forbidden to have contact with animals, "domesticated or otherwise," Barrett ordered.
On May 8, Vincent irreparably damaged Henry's eye when he chased the then-6-month-old puppy with a leaf blower. He told his soon-to-be ex-wife, Rhonda Kamper, he was merely "playing" with the puppy.
But then on May 25, Vincent put the dog in a 200-degree oven for five minutes, an ordeal that scarred Henry's chest and fused the toes of the dog's front paws together. Kamper said her husband told her he wanted to make the dog "mad" after it urinated in its cage and tried to bite him. She said Vincent told her he initially considered putting the puppy in the microwave.
During the sentencing hearing, Kamper carried the small dog to the bench and held it up for the judge to view the injuries.
"I don't like people who abuse animals," the judge told Vincent. "I don't like people who abuse children. Both are defenseless." After the hearing, Kamper said her husband of 7-years became jealous of the dog because it demanded much of her attention. She said Vincent had been prescribed medication for ongoing anger issues but he refused to take the pills.
She noted that while Vincent had apologized in court to the public, his family and friends, "he forgot to apologize to me, of all people." "I want him cooked, himself, so he knows what it feels like" Kamper told news reporters.
Update 1/22/07: Rhonda Kamper wants the state to enact a felony animal cruelty law.
Kamper said she was shocked to learn that Utah lacks an animal cruelty felony law. "I didn't know the laws were so lame in the state."
Vincent's sentencing for torturing Henry came against a backdrop of public outrage. Judge William Barrett gave him six months — half the maximum — and a $500 fine.
Now, Kamper wants to see Utah adopt a felony animal cruelty law. And some lawmakers agree with her.
Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake, is working on a yet-to-be-numbered bill that would create a felony charge for some cases of animal abuse. "It's a major problem," he said. "Some of the data indicate people who torture animals make the leap to humans."
Davis' bill is essentially the same as one Rep. Scott Wyatt, R-Logan, has run the past two sessions in the House. In the 2006 session Wyatt's bill passed the House but never made it out of the Senate Rules Committee.
Davis said that both Wyatt and the Utah Humane Society have asked him to help out with the issue.
Davis said those who have resisted the bill acted out of concerns that a felony law could negatively impact ranchers and others who work with animals, including such categories as rodeo or zoo workers.
"This is not a piece of legislation that is extremist," he said. "I'm a fan of rodeos and a supporter of the zoo."
Davis said the bill has exemptions that would protect farmers. He said that the objections have been ironed out during the past two sessions.
So far this session, Davis hasn't heard of any opposition to the bill. He sees the issue as simple. "We're talking about putting a dog in an oven, rendering an animal to torture, dismembering," he said. No society should tolerate that, he said. If the bill faces opposition, it's likely to come from rural legislators who want to protect farming.
Sen. Darin Peterson, R-Nephi, said he is leery of establishing an animal cruelty felony.
Peterson isn't sympathetic to those who would abuse animals. "I raise livestock for a living," he said. "We've had animals shot with BBs, arrows." He said he is nervous that such legislation might be used by animal rights activists to victimize farmers. "I shudder to think doors we open up when we make it a felony."
Peterson said his constituents haven't pressed him to support stiffer animal cruelty laws. "The non-contact speaks volumes."
Gene Baierschmidt, the Utah Humane Society's executive director, said creating a felony provision would spur prosecutors to act more aggressively. He said Utah is one of only nine states that don't have felony laws regarding animal mistreatment.
He said what happened to Henry should merit more serious punishment. "There's a high correlation between domestic violence, child abuse and animal abuse."
Baierschmidt thinks if legislators understand the bill it has a decent chance of passing. "It's an animal cruelty bill, not an animal rights bill," he said.
Update 3/9/07: Vincent has been released early from jail -- despite a judge's words that the man not be released "until he serves his jail time."
Vincent was sentenced to a six-month sentence in the Salt Lake County Jail. Third District Judge William Barrett emphasized in court he wanted Vincent to serve the full term, but Vincent was released two months early.
"It's just another slap in the face" and is a further example of that Utah does not take animal cruelty seriously, said Temma Martin, spokeswoman for Salt Lake County Animal Services. Martin was not surprised, however. "It illustrates why there is a need for a more forceful animal cruelty law."
The dog, Henry, became something of a celebrity during the latest session of the Legislature where a bill that would have made certain cases of animal cruelty a felony failed to pass.
Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Paul Jaroscak said Vincent was treated just like any other prisoner. And because there were no specific orders on the "commitment sheet" from Barrett that said Vincent had to serve every single day of his sentence, he was eligible for early release, Jaroscak said.
A commitment sheet is the order signed by a judge sending a person to jail.
Vincent earned his early release by taking several classes in jail on anger management and life skills and for overall good behavior in jail, Jaroscak said. "Good time" can shave a particular number of days off each day ordered served by a judge depending on the circumstances.
Nancy Volmer, public information officer for the Administrative Office of the Courts, said, "The judge did not exclude good time served," when Barrett imposed the sentence.
Vincent's commitment sheet said he was not to participate in a home ankle monitoring program. And there was a vague order simply stating "no release," Jaroscak said.
"What does that mean? He never gets out of jail ever?" Jaroscak asked. "Nothing said he couldn't be eligible for (early release for) good behavior."
Even if a judge threatens aloud in court to make a defendant serve every day of his or her sentence, Jaroscak said unless it's written on the order, it's not official.
"Our jail people are not (in court). That's why judges write commitment orders," he said. "In this particular case, despite what may have been said in a courtroom, that was not documented and given to the jail as part of his commitment to the jail."
At the sentencing, Barrett told Vincent that his conduct "was just horrendous." The judge also imposed 24 months of probation, ordered Vincent to stay away from Kamper, his then-estranged wife, the dog in question and any other animals, and ordered him to pay paid a $500 fine and $986 in restitution for veterinary bills.
Update 3/4/08: Cats and dogs in Utah are one pawstep closer to protection from torture under the possibility of felony charges.
The Utah House approved Senate Bill 197 by a vote of 62-6. The bill would make torturing a domesticated cat or dog a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Sponsor Rep. John G. Mathis, R-Vernal, calls the measure a "hammer" that will deter people from intentionally hurting animals.
"Society wants it raised to the level of a felony," he said. "It's also a statement by us saying that we're not going to tolerate this being done."
The measure was a compromise between lawmakers who said other proposals were either too harsh or too lenient. Unlike other bills this session, the compromise covers only "companion animals" and doesn't require repeat offenses to warrant a felony charge.
But some animal advocates don't think the bill goes far enough.
Rhonda Kamper said the scope of animals protected under the bill is too limited. Kamper's dog Henry was abused by her ex-husband.
"Feral cats and stay dogs - you know, you can torture them to death, and it's still just a misdemeanor," she said. "I think it's pretty sad."
The definition of torture is also set prohibitively high, which could limit the number of offenders who would face felony charges, she said. The bill defines torture as ''intentionally or knowingly causing or inflicting extreme physical pain to an animal in an especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or exceptionally depraved manner."
"Who's to say Henry would even have met that definition?" she said. "The definition of torture is set so high, the judge might have said, 'You know what? He survived it."
Kamper said she plans to lobby for amendments in future legislative sessions that would protect all animals and change the definition of torture.
Gene Baierschmidt, executive director of the Utah Humane Society, is pleased with the compromise. "It's a landmark piece of legislation," he said. "People should hold their dogs and cats tonight and tell them that they're more protected than they were this morning."
Baierschmidt said he would have liked to see other animals, like horses, protected, but he has no plans to push for further changes to the law in the near future. If Kamper or somebody else were to come forth with a proposal to expand protection, he said he would support it.
Before the final vote, some lawmakers expressed concerns that they might not be addressing the problem in the right way.
"The major breakdown, from my perspective, is in the court system," said John Dougall, R-American Fork. "We have laws on the books that are quite strong, but the courts are not following through with punishments that the public deems necessary."
Under current law an animal cruelty conviction could result in up to one year in jail, but Dougall said he's more often seen sentences of just a few days.
Lorie D. Fowlke, R-Orem, said prosecutors are ill-prepared in cruelty cases because animal workers don't adequately catalog offenses.
The bill now goes to Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has previously said he would sign anticruelty measures.
"Henry's Law," will now make the torture of dogs and cats a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
|The Salt Lake Tribune||The Deseret News|