Appomattox, VA - An Appomattox County man will spend the next two months in jail and pay $1,300 in restitution for cutting a dog's tongue out, forcing it to be euthanized.
After denying a request to withdraw his guilty plea, a judge sentenced Stephen Gregory Jones, Jr. to 12 months in jail, with all but two months suspended for felony animal abuse.
The dog's owners and Jones' former neighbors, Edward and Dolores Ferguson, urged the judge to hand down the maximum sentence, five years in prison.
In November 2012, their dog was no where to be found and prosecutors described the trail of blood animal control officers found, leading from the Ferguson's front porch to Jones' house.
Jones admitted later, he cut their dog's tongue out after it got caught in a hunting trap he illegally set on the Ferguson's property. Edward Ferguson says he told Jones several times not to hunt on their land.
Jones apologized at his sentencing, but it was too little too late.
"That's the first time he's said it was today in court. Very first time," Edward Ferguson said of the apology.
He and his wife still get emotional when talking about their black lab named "Lexis."
"She was always waiting for me at the car," Dolores Ferguson said, choking back tears.
"Lexis" was the closest they ever came to having children, unable to have any of their own.
Veterinarians recommended euthanizing the black lab, otherwise she would have likely died from choking on her own saliva.
Dolores still recalls "Lexis" wagging her tail all the way to the operating table.
"Lexis won't be forgotten. She's always gonna be loved and she's always gonna be remembered no matter what," Dolores added.
Two months in jail may not sound like a lot, but it's more than many people expected. Jones didn't have a long criminal history and didn't intentionally set the trap to injure the dog. But, the judge said he lacked remorse and lied to authorities to try and cover up what happened.