Animal cruelty charge dropped in the case of dead Pitbull found with tape wrapped around her muzzle

- Nevada, USA -

A criminal case against 31-years-old LEONEL TORRES (pictured below), who in July 2020, was charged with killing his family’s Pitbull named Cali, was dismissed on Tuesday, September 21.

Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney John Jones said there was not enough evidence to support a prosecution of TORRES.

Jones said: “We spoke with some witnesses, neighbors, and they refuted some of the points in the declaration of arrest. It raised questions in my mind about whether I would be able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”

~ July 2020:

On July 23, 2020, Clark County animal control officers found Cali with red tape wrapped around her muzzle near a trash can in the 4400 block of Vegas Valley Drive.

Police canvassed the area and called in a detective who specializes in animal cruelty cases.

When TORRES talked to the police, he said that Cali was his and that she had gone missing the night before after escaping from his backyard.

According to US News Chant, “Officers checked out Torres’ yard to see how Cali might have escaped, however decided it can be unlikely, since she was locked behind two fences.”

As reported by KTNV, the day after Cali was found, TORRES took a polygraph and when he was asked whether he put the red tape on Cali’s muzzle, he denied it and the results indicated ‘deception.’ When TORRES was made aware of that, he declined to speak further with police.

Police obtained a search warrant for TORRES’ home and, in a padlocked shed, officers found red duct tape “that matched the color, texture and size of the tape wrapped around the muzzle of Cali”, reported Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Furthermore, “a forensic scientist also examined the duct tape and compared it to the tape on the dog’s muzzle, noting that the two were consistent with one another.”

According to KTNV, an exam revealed that Cali most likely died of a stroke as a result of her mouth being taped shut.

A warrant of arrest was issued for TORRES on January 12, 2021.

Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that TORRES was arrested on March 24, 2021, and on April 5, 2021, he was booked at the Clark County Detention Center on a felony charge of malicious torture, maiming or killing of an animal.

TORRES’ defense attorney, Michael D. Pariente, said back then that police “jumped to conclusions” and that the charges against his client were completely unfounded.

Pariente said TORRES and his family loved Cali and maintained that Cali could have easily escaped from the yard by jumping a wall.

Pariente also said that he learned from witnesses that Cali was friendly with everyone, and that he believed neighbors in a dispute with his client were likely responsible for the crime.

In the document Metro Police wrote: “From my experience investigating animal cruelty cases, I know that the owner is oftentimes the abuser. In this case, Cali was a healthy pit bull weighing over 56 pounds. It is very hard for a stranger to catch a canine running at large in a neighborhood. Even if a canine is captured, canines will fight a person, especially a stranger, that is attempting to cover their muzzle, as this causes them to struggle to breath and cool themselves.”

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8 News Now – April 6, 2021

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