Car thief who left stolen dog to die in abandoned car gets 2 1/2 years in prison

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Aimee Green
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Article date: 
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
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A 35-year-old methamphetamine addict who stole a car with a dog inside, then later abandoned the car with the dog shut alive inside -- ultimately causing its death -- was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison Wednesday.

Francisco Vincent Gonzalez's attorney had asked for probation and drug treatment, noting his clients' out-of-control drug problem....

"I tell the truth -- I am very sorry," Gonzalez said, as he turned to face Kona's owner, Bill Robbins, who was seated in the courtroom gallery.

But Multnomah County Circuit Judge Kelly Skye told Gonzalez that probation was unacceptable given the extreme nature of what he'd done. Kona was waiting for Robbins in the Hyundai Elantra on April 7 during a 5-minute stop outside Robbins' recreational marijuana business, Sweet Leaf Illusions, on Southeast 82nd Avenue.

Robbins said he had left the car's engine and air conditioning running. He said the doors were locked, but he wonders if Kona somehow unlocked them.

Video surveillance shows Gonzalez approaching the car and driving off. The car was found five days later on April 12, after neighbors noticed the smell of a decomposing body and someone called police about the suspicious car near Southeast 91st and Cooper Street.

Investigators believe Kona died of heat stroke. The high on the day he was stolen was an unseasonably warm 87, followed by another day in the 80s.

"The harm caused here was significantly greater than the average stolen car or, frankly, stolen pet," the judge said. "There were multiple opportunities ...for the defendant to let the dog go."...

"All he had to do was open the door and let the dog out, and he didn't," Skye, the judge, said. "And there's a significant consequence to that."...

In October, Gonzalez pleaded guilty to a host of charges -- including first-degree animal abuse, animal abandonment, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and meth possession. He also pleaded guilty to first-degree theft and no contest to identity theft because he drove off with more than $1,000 in cash and tried to use Robbins' ATM card to get more money, authorities say.

Gonzalez's defense attorney, Bill Walsh, had argued to the judge that his client should receive a sentence that treats him similarly to other defendants who've hurt animals. ...

After the hearing, Kona's owner -- Robbins -- said he felt like justice was served for Kona. But Robbins said he, his supporters and prosecutor Brian Davidson had to fight hard for it.

Robbins said he and his supporters have collected 38,500 signatures urging lawmakers to change the law by creating harsher penalties for people who hurt animals.

Robbins and his supporters also have created a "Kona Alert" Facebook group that encompasses a network of people who will help find stolen dogs..

Robbins said in the seven months since Kona's death, he's felt a profound loss....

"He used to look out the front window, put his head on my shoulder," Robbins said. "I miss him every day."

Gonzalez was born in Mexico. In court papers, Gonzalez's defense attorney said that Gonzalez ultimately will be deported.