A man accused of taping a dog’s mouth shut was found guilty Thursday after he rejected a plea deal offered to him by the state — putting his trial in motion.
Oscar Lee Thompson III, 19, was found guilty as charged of one count of aggravated animal cruelty, a third-degree felony, by a unanimous vote by a jury.
Thompson was arrested for the abuse of “Chance” back in May when he was found with his mouth taped shut along with several other injuries including puncture wounds found on his body.
The tape that had been around Chance’s mouth was collected by a crime scene technician with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office who joined in the investigation. Chance’s story was widely circulated to find who was responsible. A tip to Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers led an animal control detective to Oscar Lee Thompson III as a person of interest.
Thompson admitted knowing of the dog and claimed to have only known it as a stray that would come to his house occasionally but denied knowledge of the animal cruelty.
Investigators found fingerprints and on tape put around Chance’s snout, and it all matched Thompson. But Thompson says the tape belongs to a homeless mechanic who often wandered his neighborhood.
“What was done to Chance was not only a violation of Florida law but also morally
unconscionable. This young dog was harmed, left with no defenses, and then let go to wander in pain. Animal abuse, when the law and evidence supports the crime, will be prosecuted,” said State Attorney Amira Fox.
The plea deal offered to Thompson would have included 180 days in jail and probation. Thompson would also not be allowed to own any animals during that time.
Since the abuse happened, the dog has now become known as Deputy Dog Chance of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators had enough evidence to convict Thompson Thursday but not enough to keep him in jail. He was allowed to return home after the day’s hearing as long as he continued to follow the terms of his bond.
Prosecutors say they’re still deciding what kind of sentence they will recommend.
His sentencing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. March 2.