A Michigan City man, accused of torturing his dog, stood before a judge Friday with every intention of accepting a plea bargain that would have him serve no more than 2.5 years in prison.
The judge however, felt the penalty was too lenient and rejected the deal, to the chagrin of Cope, but to the delight of the dozens of dog lovers in the courtroom.
“Not harsh enough,” Sherri Christopher, founder of animal rights group Guardians of the Green Mile, said. “The punishment wouldn't have fit the crime.”
A courthouse is usually a place of quiet order, but cheers rang out when a judge rejected Richard Cope's plea bargain.
“When she announced that she was not accepting it, I think we all really held it together,” Christopher said. “We were going to stand up and probably literally scream ‘Hallelujah.’”
Cope has been charged with two felonies and three misdemeanors for allegedly beating his dog, Chance, in December 2015.
Chance was just a few months old when Cope allegedly broke both of his hips and taped his mouth shut with electrical tape.
The animal rights group Guardians of the Green Mile helped rescue him, and they have been fighting for chance ever since.
“When you meet him, and he's this sweet, loving, tender, little puppy, I think that's what hit home,” Christopher said. “When I first met him on December 26th, he trusted me, and he had no reason to trust me, but he knew he was safe.”
Since rescuing Chance, the group has been active in not only the pup's recovery, but also in bringing his abuser to justice.
“We can't let this abuse go on with our animals or our children,” Guardians of the Green Mile member Cathy Albrecht said. “They don't have a voice. That's why we're here and so compassionate about. They need someone to stand up who has a voice for them, and that's what we're hoping to be.”
“We've actually showed up to court every single month,” Christopher said. “I think that is powerful. They see us in the courtroom every single month; they know we're not going away. I think that's kind of why it drug out so long, they thought maybe the crowds would thin down, but they've actually multiplied.”
With dozens of supporters dressed in purple, holding pictures and wearing t-shirts of Chance, the crowd was decidedly happy with the judge's decision, but also aware of all the work still to be done.
“The law can only go so far, but if we stand up, we can get some of these laws changed,” Albrecht said. “We're hoping to do what we can and every step is important. Whether it's this case or another case, we'll be here. And we'll be here for each and every one.”
With the plea bargain rejected, the case will now go to trial, with the first hearing scheduled for February 10th. The Guardians of the Green Mile already have said they will be there until they feel justice is served.
Even after the case is over, the Guardians said their work will be far from over, as they plan to lobby the state for harsher laws with longer prison sentences for animal abusers. Fittingly, they plan on naming their proposed-law “Chance’s Law.”
This news has been published by title Dog Abuser\'s Plea Deal Rejected As Animal Rights Group Readies For Trial
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