HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Animal advocates are outraged tonight after the Waimanalo puppy mill manager convicted of animal cruelty charges is given credit for time served and set free after six months behind bars.
In court Deputy Prosecutor Jan Futa pulled out the photos of dogs living in disgusting conditions, some with nauseating medical issues and urged the judge to sentence Waimanalo puppy mill manager David Becker to five years in prison for second degree animal cruelty.
"It was deliberate and callous conduct designed solely to provide a bottom line profit for the defendant running this puppy mill. They could have spent more money on the dogs, they could have given them the care the dogs needed but instead they kept that expenditure to make their profit greater," said Jan Futa, in court.
"No matter if the offenses are misdemeanors (David Becker) needs to be taught a lesson, he needs to be deterred," said Futa.
"With all due respect, this is not a court of send a message. This is a court of law," said Circuit Court Judge Glenn Kim.
Judge Kim said the five years prosecutors asked for would be longer than a class C felony. He said a $300 shoplifting case is legally more serious than this one. He also chastised the State for charging 153 separate counts when he said it should have been just one.
"It is my considered opinion, that given the specific way it charged the 153 separate counts, the state would have faced considerable proof problems at trial," said Judge Kim.
The judge said it would be unfair to give Becker the full sentence when there are others who are also responsible, namely the farm owners who also walked away scot free because the now defunct company Bradley International was charged, not individual officers.
"I would note that all the other responsible parties in this case who in my opinion are at least as culpable as this defendant, most significantly the other owners of this so called puppy mill. Because of various legal circumstances, including the initially defective charging by the state, they have basically escaped all punishment," said Judge Kim.
Becker also won't have to pay any fines. Judge Kim credited Becker with saving taxpayer money and resources by pleading no contest instead of going to trial.
He also won't make Becker reimburse the $370,000 to the Hawaiian Humane Society. That was the amount spent to care for the animals after they were seized February 28, 2011.
Judge Kim then sentenced Becker to six months in jail and credited him with time already served. Becker has been in custody since early June 2012 so after the sentencing he was a free man.
"There are more than a few people in this community for whom the only acceptable sentence for this defendant would be to lock him up and literally throw away the key. Again most people love puppies and dogs and simply cannot abide their mistreatment and abuse. This is completely understandable. However, once again the bottom line is these are misdemeanor offenses," said Judge Kim.
"In my view it probably should have been charged in a single count," continued Judge Kim. "I would also say to anyone who truly believes that months and months of being locked up in jail is not a long time. I would suggest humbly that if you were to try it yourself you might very well find yourself feeling differently about that."
"I believe it was the worst outcome," said Pam Burns, Hawaiian Humane Society President, after the sentencing. "We are extremely disappointed with the sentencing today. We feel it was far too light for the horrendous crimes that he personally over sought and lived with for months on end."
The Hawaiian Humane Society has worked on this case for years. Employees said it was difficult to listen to the explanations from the judge.
"I think we should be very concerned as a society," said Burns. "I think we're going to need to meet with the Prosecutors office again and see what if anything can be done to further strengthen the laws that are in place."