By Joe Johnson
A man pleaded guilty Monday in Oglethorpe County Superior Court to 16 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals -- one count for each of the dogs that were found dead on property from which he was evicted last year on Sanders Old Farm Road outside of Crawford.
Necropsies performed at the University of Georgia were unable to determine causes of death for the animals. The indictment returned by an Oglethorpe County grand jury alleged that 36-year-old Daniel Ortiz Casique “did maliciously cause the deaths by means unknown,”
Casique, who had been scheduled to begin trial this week entered into a negotiated agreement with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to all 16 felony counts, said Parks White, district attorney for the Northern Judicial Circuit.
At a sentencing hearing to be held later this week, White said the recommended punishment will be a maximum of three years in confinement and 15 years on probation.
During plea negotiations, Casique said the dogs were ill and when he killed them it was not done maliciously but as a means of euthazation, according to White.
After he was evicted Casique reportedly was looking for homes to place them, but when some people went to the property, they found the bodies of the dogs.
Casique fled the area prior to the gruesome discovery, the county sheriff’s office said. He was arrested in May when located in Florida.