Protesters picket horse slaughter hearing
MIAMI (WSVN) -- Animal rights activists demonstrated outside the Metro Justice building where two men accused of animal cruelty were scheduled to face a judge inside, Tuesday morning.
However, Santiago Cabrera, 20, and Luis Cordero, 19, turned down their right to appear in court for their pre-trial hearing. Still, that did not stop the activists outside to protest a proposed plea deal by prosecutors, who are considering giving the young men a 5-year sentence.
A new state law, as of July 1, made it a felony to butcher a horse and buy or sell its meat, and these activists want to see these confessed horse killers face the maximum sentence, which is life.
Cabrera and Cordero both stand accused of killing horses in the fall of last year, which occurred before the new state lay took effect. Regardless, they could both face a life sentence, should they not take the plea deal. "A five year sentence as a youthful offender was an appropriate sentence," said Prosecutor Michael Von Zamft.
As the protesters held up signs reading "Hang 'em high" and "Sadistic killers deserve no mercy," the defendants' lawyers appeared before a judge to ask for some time for psychological evaluations on the two men.
Marianne Allen is one of the activists who feel a five-year sentence will serve little purpose in fitting the crime. "Five years is a gift," she said, "and they're asking for less. They're asking for boot camp in there, for these guys. These guys are sadistic killers."
Amos Gadlin lost a horse during a wave of horse slaughters that began well over a year ago, and amounted to as many as 22 documented horse killings. "That's not enough," he said. "That's not enough. I'm still hurting when I try to talk about it right now."
Cabrera and Cordero may not be involved in all these killings, as, police believe, many more remain at large for the gruesome killings. Richard Couto of the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explained, "There are hundreds of people involved in the horse meat trade and the illegal meat trade in Miami-Dade County."
The judge did decide in favor of the psychological evaluations, and the parties will return to court in about a month's time. The judge will then decide whether the five years are enough.
Again, several of these crimes remain unsolved. If you can help investigators, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward worth up to $15,000.
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