MIAMI (CBS4) – One of the two men accused of illegally slaughtering horses for their meat will serve a five-year prison sentence, a Miami-Dade judge ruled Friday.
Santiago Cabrera, 19, admitted to butchering horses alive after being arrested for his connection in the killing of horses in Southwest Miami-Dade.
Cabrera is accused of turning in his partner in crime Louis Cordero, 18, in an attempt to cash in the reward.
Dozens of horse owners and supporters packed the courtroom Friday, some spoke before the sentence was handed down asking the judge to issue a tough penalty. Miami-Dade commissioner Sally Heyman spoke as an individual.
“I’m here asking that we review the nature of this incident and proceed with the maximum penalty to send the message that this is intolerable,” Heyman told the judge.
Cabrera admitted to killing horses Nov. 17 and also plead guilty to several charges related to the horse killings that occurred last year, including armed burglary and animal cruelty.
During Friday’s sentencing, his parents spoke to the judge in Spanish pleading for mercy saying he had suffered from mental problems as a child.
“He was not a normal child,” said his mother Odalys Cabrera. “I beg you forgiveness because we are suffering.”
The sentence is perceived light by animal rights activists and horse owners.
“I’m not going to tolerate this,” said horse owner Ivan Rodriguez. “We are not going to stand and let this happen. They’re defenseless animals. Nobody understands the bond between a horse and its owner. Until you have that experience, you don’t know the loss that we feel.”
According to investigators, Cabrera, 19, admitted to being paid $500 to lure a 5-year-old thoroughbred horse named “King Quizi” out of his stall at the “A Lazy L Ranch” in the 12000 block of NW 157th Street.
Police say Cabrera held the horse while another person slit his throat. The intent was to sell the meat.
Miami-Dade Police said Cabrera also admitted to the slaughtering of a second horse in Miami Gardens. Cabrera said he and three other suspects entered the ranch at 5400 NW 159 Street where a horse was slaughtered with the intent to sell meat.
He told police he was paid $900 to help slaughter that horse.
Judge Sarah Zabel imposed the maximum penalty of five years under the plea deal Cabrera struck with the prosecutors.
“I do believe this young man knew right from wrong,” Zabel said in court. “I hope you get help.”