ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - If it were up to prosecutors, 31-year-old Darick Stallworth would spend up to four years in prison after he pleaded guilty Monday to three felony counts of animal abuse and two more misdemeanor charges of animal neglect.
But if Stray Rescue founder Randy Grim had his way, Stallworth would be behind bars a lot longer than that.
“Each felony count should be four, four and four so it should be twelve years,” Grim said on the steps of the civil courts building after the hearing. “But in my own personal opinion I think he should just be locked up forever.”
Stallworth, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit with the long dreadlocks from his booking photo shorn off, quietly answered “Yes” as circuit judge Margaret Neill asked if he wanted to plead guilty to the charges against him and whether he understood the repercussions of doing so.
Grim, whose employees and supporters took up half the courtroom, wiped away tears as assistant circuit attorney Anna Kratky read the charges against Stallworth, outlining what five dogs went through before they died back in May.
Grim said what actually happened to the dogs was much worse than it sounded when written in “legalese”.
“I’ve had to keep the manner in which he killed the dogs somewhat under wraps until today,” Grim explained. “But now I can honestly tell you that he skinned their faces, he strangled them with a cord until their heads fell off. He confessed to snapping their necks.”
Prosecutors said the dogs had also been left without food and water for extended periods of time and were kept in small, feces-covered enclosures.
“It was a house of horrors,” Grim concluded.
The legal proceedings were briefly disrupted when Darick Stallworth’s grandmother, with whom he’d been living prior to his arrest, suddenly collapsed in the courtroom.
She was taken away on a stretcher by EMT’s and her condition was not immediately known.
The hearing concluded after about 20 minutes and Stallworth pleaded guilty to all five charges against him.
Judge Neill set October 4, 2012 as Stallworth’s sentencing date.