Friday, December 30, 2016

Florida: Even after torturing and killing her pet rabbits, Francisco Velasquez's girlfriend stayed - and continued to be abused by him

FLORIDA -- A Palmetto man convicted in 2014 of animal cruelty and battery after he killed his girlfriend’s pet rabbits — to demonstrate what he wanted to do to her after pushing her and threatening to kill her — has been found in violation of probation after being charged with abusing the same girlfriend.

Francisco Velasquez was found in violation of his probation for his felony animal cruelty convictions, according to a court order issued by Circuit Judge Susan Maulucci. Now Velasquez is facing five years in prison.

On Oct. 21, 2013, Velasquez got into an argument when he began cursing at her, pushed her and threatened to kill her and snap her neck.

But then Velasquez walked over to her pet rabbits’ cage, opened it and took out one of the rabbits. He beat the rabbit with his fist until it was dead, dropped it on the ground and took out the other rabbit and did the same.

Velasquez, 39, pleaded no contest in April 2014 to one count of battery and two counts of cruelty to animals. He was sentenced to nearly a year in the Manatee County jail followed by two years probation.

As he was being taken to the Manatee County jail, Velasquez said, “That’s fine, when I get out, she will get hers,” the deputy reported in his arrest report.

In April, Velasquez was arrested and charged with domestic battery again after the same girlfriend reported that he had thrown a beer can at her during an argument. His girlfriend later become uncooperative with prosecutors, forcing the charge to be dropped.

But the State Attorney’s Office did formally file a charge of violation of probation that his new arrest prompted.

Last week, during a violation of probation hearing, the arresting deputy corroborated the victim’s initial statements — considered hearsay but permitted during violation of probation hearings if supported by other evidence. The victim’s arm appeared wet, smelling of beer and she was upset, he testified.

Velasquez has been held without bond in the Manatee County jail since his April 7 arrest.

During the violation of probation hearing, a jail call between Velazquez and the victim was played in court in which they were discussed how to defend him against the charge.

Velasquez had told her to go to the prosecutor and say it had all been a misunderstanding, adding, “Don’t tell them that I threw beer on you.”

Maulucci ruled that the call in addition to the other evidence proved that Velasquez had thrown the beer can on him, and found him in violation of probation.

A sentencing hearing has not yet been set.

(Bradenton Herald - Dec 28, 2016)


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