A 49-year-old West Richland man said Tuesday that he regrets fatally shooting his hunting dog because he has a "deep love" for animals.
Robert Victor Garsjo was sentenced in Franklin County Superior Court to three months in jail, with the option to do the time on the Washington state Department of Corrections work crew.
He pleaded guilty last month to first-degree animal cruelty for the Dec. 18 shooting near the Ringold Fish Hatchery. In exchange for his plea, a charge of unlawful use of a firearm for shooting across or along a roadway was dismissed.
"This is something that after the fact I regretted doing. Quite so. And, um, there is not a day that goes by that I think about what happened that morning," Garsjo told Judge Craig Matheson. "I will probably not forget that morning for quite some time to come. I'm pretty emotional about it."
In his written plea statement, Garsjo admitted to shooting his hunting dog several times, causing him "undue suffering."
Garsjo was arrested by Franklin County sheriff's deputies after they received a call about someone shooting a dog near the hatchery. The caller said the suspect drove away in a truck with a Ducks Unlimited decal in the back window, and a deputy spotted Garsjo's truck and stopped him, court documents said.
Garsjo admitted he shot the dog because it had been barking, would not follow directions and tried to bite him. The dog, which apparently was shot as it ran away from Garsjo, was found dead in a ditch near the road.
"I have deep love for animals, and I won't be able to own one for quite some time, and that hurts me too. I'm going to respect the court and stay on my medication and continue to see (a licensed counselor) for quite some time because I've come a long way," Garsjo told the court Tuesday. "I have quite some distance to go yet. But through her I think I can actually get my life back to normal and come out of this a good, upstanding citizen hopefully as my ultimate goal."
Matheson reminded Garsjo that insight is the first step in the right direction, and said he probably won't see Garsjo back in court because he should be successful with following the conditions of his sentence.
The jail term will run at the same time as a sentence Garsjo is serving on an unrelated third-degree assault case in Benton County.
Pasco man pleads innocent to child rape
A Pasco man pleaded innocent to allegations he had sex with a young teen girl a month after the two met on Facebook.
Sergio Magana Jr., 22, faces trial Dec. 5 for third-degree rape of a child.
According to court documents, the girl snuck out of her Irrigon home May 15 and got a ride to Pasco to meet up with Magana. She claims they had consensual sex together that night at his house, documents said.
The following day, the teen and her family contacted the Morrow County Sheriff's Office in Heppner, which then alerted Pasco police to the case.
Pasco Detective Scott Warren tracked down Magana in May and interviewed him about the incident. Magana allegedly told Warren he had sex with the girl on a nearby bike path, in addition to at his house.
When charges were filed in August, authorities tried to serve Magana with a summons to appear in court but couldn't reach him at his West Henry Street home.
A judge on Sept. 17 ordered that an arrest warrant be issued.
Magana was taken into custody the following week and immediately posted bond on $5,000 bail.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org