A Fresno man was sentenced Monday to two years in prison for tying a backpack filled with rocks to his nephew’s 9-month-old dog and drowning the animal in a swimming pool.
In announcing the punishment, Judge Jonathan Conklin said a Fresno County Superior Court jury had ruled in April that Timothy Joel Holloway, 66, did a malicious act three years ago against a pit-bull mix named Kane.
Holloway, who was free on $30,000 bail, requested a few days to get his home in order before he went to prison. But Conklin denied the request and ordered a bailiff to handcuff Holloway in court and take him into custody.
With his sentence, Holloway became the first defendant prosecuted by District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp’s animal cruelty unit to be found guilty by a jury. Formed about a year ago, the unit has successfully convicted several defendants of animal cruelty through plea agreements.
Holloway was the first to take his case to trial, prosecutor Lynette Gonzales said Monday.
This was a cruel act.
Fresno prosecutor Lynette Gonzales
Holloway got in trouble on July 1, 2013, when deputies arrived at a home in the 8000 block of North Madsen Avenue north of Sanger after receiving reports of animal cruelty. Deputies said the victim reported that his uncle, Holloway, had killed his pit bull after it had apparently killed a cat belonging to Holloway’s mother.
In Holloway’s trial in April, Gonzales told the jury that the defendant became upset with his nephew’s dog and formulated a plan to shoot the animal at his nephew’s house. Instead, Holloway entered his nephew’s house without permission and filled a backpack full of rocks. The defendant then hogtied Kane’s legs and tied the backpack to the dog before dumping the animal into his nephew’s pool, Gonzales said.
The jury convicted Holloway of felony animal cruelty with the use of a weapon – the backpack filled with rocks – and felony residential burglary. He faced up to seven years and eight months in prison, but Conklin gave Holloway a lesser prison sentence after he noted that Holloway had served in combat with the U.S. Air Force and cared for his mother before she died.
In addition to prison, Holloway will not be able to own or reside with any pets for 10 years, will not be able to own or possess any firearms, and will be required to undergo counseling, the District Attorney’s Office said.
The judge gave Timothy Joel Holloway a lesser prison sentence after he noted that Holloway had served in combat with the U.S. Air Force and cared for his mother before she died.
At Monday’s hearing, Conklin received several letters in support of Holloway getting probation. The judge told the supporters that Holloway will likely be out of prison in one year.
Afterward, Gonzales said there was no evidence presented at Holloway’s trial that Kane had killed a cat.
“This was a cruel act,” said Gonzales, who was assisted by senior investigator Danielle Isaac of the District Attorney’s Office. “He killed the dog at his nephew’s home and left his mother’s dead cat in the victim’s freezer.”
Prosecutors take such cases seriously “because people who abuse animals are more likely to harm people,” Gonzales said. “That’s why it’s important to take a stand against animal cruelty, because by doing so, we are protecting not only animals, but also the community.”