Third District Affirms Animal Cruelty Conviction for Stabbing & Killing Sheep

The Third District Court of Appeal of Florida affirmed Jose Reyes's judgment and sentence on three counts of aggravated animal cruelty for killing three sheep. Reyes argued on appeal that the evidence could only support convictions for misdemeanor animal cruelty because the State failed to show that he had killed the sheep in a cruel or unnecessarily painful manner. The Third District rejected Reyes's claim, concluding that there was sufficient evidence to support his conviction for aggravated animal cruelty. Specifically, the court pointed to evidence that the police found Reyes in the driver's seat of a truck as another man loaded the bodies of the three sheep into the vehicle. The sheep had been abducted from their owner's barn. They had been stabbed and slashed in their bellies and chests. They were still warm to the touch when the police arrived, and the blood pattern on the sheep suggested that they had been dragged to the truck. The barn from which they were taken was "a long way" away from where they were found. A knife with fresh blood on it was found in Reyes's vehicle, and a photograph of the knife was admitted into evidence. The Third District held that this "evidence is sufficient to establish that three sheep, stabbed or slashed multiple times with a knife and then dragged from a barn on private property to Reyes's truck, suffered cruel deaths and suffered excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering."

To read the full opinion, see Reyes v. State, 3D18-0164 (June 19, 2019).

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