Man Taped Beating Dog Gets Probation : Courts: The charge is reduced to a misdemeanor and a fine is imposed. He would have lost his job if convicted of a felony.


A Fountain Valley man who was captured on videotape abusing a young dog was sentenced Friday to three years’ probation and ordered to pay $850 in restitution and a donation to a local animal shelter.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Luis A. Cardenas also reduced Richard Eugene Griffith Jr.’s felony conviction on an animal abuse charge to a misdemeanor, after learning the defendant, who has a child with a kidney ailment, would lose his job and medical insurance if convicted of a felony.

Griffith, 36, was arrested in May after a neighbor’s videotape allegedly showed Griffith beating the dog, whose mouth was taped shut, with a garden tool.


Defense attorney Mark N. Phillips had contended that his client taped the dog’s mouth shut after it nipped his child and that he was striking the dog to discipline it. He also said the dog did not suffer serious injuries. Phillips could not be reached for comment.

The 1-year-old dog, named Jazzy, has since been placed with another family that wants to adopt it, said Deputy Dist. Atty. James Hicks.

The prosecutor said he wanted Griffith sentenced to community service. But the judge had a variety of circumstances to consider in the case, including Griffith’s lack of a criminal record, the recommendations of friends in the community and his child’s illness, Hicks said.

“You look at the videotape and the behavior is horrific, but it seemed like everyone who knew him thought he was the greatest guy in the world,” Hicks said. “Even the neighbor (who videotaped him) didn’t want him to go to jail.”

“(The defense) said this was just an aberration, so the judge is giving him the chance to prove this was just a onetime thing,” Hicks said. He added that the provision of Griffith’s sentence will require frequent checks with the Orange County Probation Department.

Griffith must also pay a $500 donation to an animal shelter and about $350 to pay for the costs of removing the animal from the home and caring for it.