Concluding what a prosecutor called Richmond's biggest dogfighting case, Stacey A. Miller was sentenced yesterday to four years in prison, fined $20,000 and barred from owning any companion animals.
Miller, an Army veteran described in letters of support as a community-minded churchgoer, has "been a good and productive citizen," his lawyer, John Mann, said in arguing for reduced prison time.
But good and productive citizens don't take part in dogfighting and don't abuse their animals, said Assistant Commonwealth's At- How does the sentence in Richmond's biggest dogfighting case compare with other U.S. cases?Page A5.torney Jaime Blackmon.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Alexander L. Taylor reminded the judge that a dozen of the dogs seized from Miller by animal-control officers and police last year have had to be euthanized, either because of serious illness, injury or malnutrition, or because their training as fighting dogs made them too dangerous for adoption. Taylor said the case is the city's biggest dogfighting prosecution to date.
"These dogs are not pets," Taylor told the judge. "These dogs were trained for dogfighting. . . . This awful, brutal blood sport called dogfighting."
Jody Jones, program manager of Richmond Animal Care and Control, said in court yesterday that the case produced more dogs euthanized than any other case she knows of from her 15-year career in animal control. She has been in her current job two years.
Miller, 40, was convicted in January of felony dogfighting, two counts of felony animal cruelty, a dozen counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and two counts of possessing steroids. The jury recommended the four-year sentence and $20,000 in fines that the judge imposed yesterday.
Miller also was ordered to pay Richmond Animal Care and Control $26,205.29 in restitution for the cost of caring for the 15 American pit bull terriers that were seized from him in February 2006.
Judge Richard D. Taylor Jr. ordered Miller to never again own any companion animal.
Prosecutor Alexander Taylor asked the judge to add the restitution order and the order forbidding Miller to own companion animals.
Mann said he intends to appeal on behalf of his client.
Until last year, Miller kept 16 pit bulls in the backyard of his house on LaSalle Drive in South Richmond. They were confined with heavy chains used for automobile towing. Chaining the animals is a dogfighting technique for building strength.
On Feb. 10, 2006, Richmond Animal Control Officer Keegan Merrick responded to a call from one of Miller's neighbors that one of the dogs had died. When Merrick arrived he found the dead dog in a trash can. The others had no food, no clean water and no adequate shelter.
Animal-control officers and police seized the dogs and searched Miller's house. They found treadmills and other equipment used for training fighting dogs, dogfighting manuals, pedigree books, medical supplies typically used to treat dogs' wounds after a fight, and other evidence of dogfighting.
Alexander Taylor, asking the judge to impose the jury's sentence, said that the jury had specified two years in prison for dogfighting, one year on each of the two felony animal-cruelty counts and fines for the other counts.
"They gave the time on the most serious offenses, dogfighting and felony animal cruelty," Taylor said. "Stacey Miller was engaged in, and we believe also promoted, a blood sport -- dogfighting."
Contact Tom Campbell at (804) 649-6416 or email@example.com.