Judge sentences Boynton man to one year behind bars for animal cruelty

The Boynton Beach man convicted of multiple counts of animal cruelty was sentenced Monday to a fraction of the time the state attorney’s office asked for, court records show.

The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office asked Judge Marni Bryson to sentence 39-year-old Roderick Shelton to six years in prison for mistreatment of his three pit bulls. Bryson opted to give Shelton one year behind bars and a year probation, according to court records. The five months he’s spent in jail will count toward that one-year sentence, court records state.

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Shelton, Roderick was convicted on multiple counts of animal cruelty. (Provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office)

Shelton, Roderick was convicted on multiple counts of animal cruelty. (Provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office)

When officials removed Shelton’s dogs from his Boynton home, they had fleas and hookworms and were injured, Animal Cruelty Investigator Liz Roehrich told Bryson. One of the pit bulls had wounds likely caused by bites from another animal, Roehrich said.

A six-year sentence likely would have been the longest misdemeanor sentence handed down, the state attorney’s office said.

Animal Cruelty Investigator Liz Roehrich testifies at Roderick Shelton’s sentencing hearing Tuesday morning, July 12, 2016. Prosecutors have asked that Shelton, who was found guilty of 3 counts of cruelty to animals and 3 counts of unlawful confinement of animals, receive a 6 year sentence. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Animal Cruelty Investigator Liz Roehrich testifies at Roderick Shelton’s sentencing hearing Tuesday morning, July 12, 2016. Prosecutors have asked that Shelton, who was found guilty of 3 counts of cruelty to animals and three counts of unlawful confinement of animals, receive a six-year sentence. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

The unusually high request led Bryson to reschedule the sentencing hearing from July. She said she need more time to review Shelton’s past criminal history, which began when he was 14, according to the state attorney’s office. Shelton’s public defender said Shelton’s only prior convictions have been on drug charges.

Officials were alerted about Shelton’s dogs in 2014 when one of his pit bulls bit a neighbor, Roehrich said. That dog was given up to Animal Care and Control, but Shelton soon had two more.

The dogs ran loose, had untreated injuries and were tied to a tree without shelter from the sun, Roehrich said.

In March 2015, Roehrich took the dogs from the home following a neighbor’s complaint.

Outside the courtroom in July, Roehrich said a six-year sentence would have set a precedent in animal-cruelty cases.

“I’ve been doing this for many years, so to see this progression of what our society is thinking toward the human treatment of animals is very welcoming,” she said.

Staff writer Hannah Winston contributed to this report. 

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