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Maywood mayor avoids time in jail in dog abuse case

Maywood mayor avoids time in jail in dog abuse case
Maywood Mayor Ramon Medina, right, and his attorney Anthony Willoughby leave Compton Courthouse last month. On Wednesday, he was sentenced in an animal cruelty case. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

After being convicted, Maywood Mayor Ramon Medina filed the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary: a motion asking a judge to dismiss an animal abuse case by claiming, in part, that he did not own the dog in question.

It did not work.

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On Wednesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle M. Ahnn denied the motion and ordered the mayor to complete five days of community service, attend animal care classes and not get into any more legal trouble for a year.

Anthony Willoughby, the attorney representing Medina in the animal abuse case, said he plans to file an appeal on his client’s behalf.

Medina’s legal issues with the pit bull Hershey began in February 2015 after the dog was dropped off at a shelter in Downey. Animal control officers noticed that the animal couldn’t move and was twitching, a sign that it was severely dehydrated, according to L.A. County’s animal control department.

“Pit bulls have a muscular tone appearance, but Hershey was not like that,” said an official. “You could see her ribs through her fur and you could see her hip bones on her back. Picture an extremely thin dog.”

Ultimately, Hershey was put down and the focus shifted to the dog’s owner.

Animal control officers were able to link the dog to Medina based on a form that had been filled out by the man who had dropped off the dog at the shelter. Authorities said the man, Bobby Wiley, was an employee of Medina and that the dog had been at his employer’s business, R&M Auto Service.

Unable to get records from Medina about the pit bull, animal care officers sent the case to the district attorney to consider filing charges against the mayor.

Prosecutors said they mailed a letter in September 2015, notifying Medina of the criminal case and informing him to appear in court on Oct. 22. Medina never showed up and a bench warrant for his arrest was issued.

For more than two years, the case sat in the court system, until February when Medina went to court and pleaded not guilty of one misdemeanor count each of cruelty to an animal and failure to care for an animal.

In August, a jury found the mayor guilty. Last month, the mayor requested that the case be dismissed because he was denied a right to due process. He said he had a right to a speedy and fair trial, which he said he didn’t get. He also claimed there was insufficient evidence that he had committed the crime.

Ahnn disagreed with those claims. She said Medina never expressed concerns about a speedy trial. In fact, the time given to the defense allowed them to locate Wiley, a crucial witness.

She said that based on the evidence brought to the jurors they had determined that Medina was the owner of the dog and the evidence of the crime was the body of Hershey.

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