Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury finds Tampa man guilty of butchering, eating puppy

TAMPA — Prosecutors told a jury Thursday that Thomas Huggins killed a dog with his bare hands.

Huggins' attorneys didn't deny that, but claimed it hadn't been proven to be a cruel death. Testifying in his defense, Huggins said that he didn't want the dog to suffer, it had just grown too large and aggressive.

It took jurors about an hour Thursday to find Huggins guilty of animal cruelty.

Huggins, 26, was arrested in June after his mother discovered the remains of her young pit bull Bandit. Authorities say Huggins told them he strangled the dog, then used a steak knife to skin and eviscerate it.

Tampa police said they discovered the dog's head and innards in a trash can at Huggins' mother's home, and that Huggins had quartered the dog's remains, stored some of them in the freezer and cooked the ribs in a pot on the stove, eating some of the meat.

The one-day trial focused on the strangulation and whether it was a cruel death.

Bill Zingalie, who works for Hillsborough County Animal Services, testified that he didn't see signs of blunt trauma or other injury in the remains. But he said, "Strangulation as a form of euthanasia is not considered an acceptable form of euthanasia in a dog."

Huggins sat staring down at his hands. He later told jurors that he held the dog in a cloth and twice tried to strangle it with a plastic garbage bag.

"I didn't want her to suffer," Huggins said. "I put it down because it was getting aggressive."

In a call from jail played to the jury, Huggins told his father that he didn't know what he did was illegal, and that his mother had blown it out of proportion.

Margie Huggins, Thomas Huggins' mother, said she and her son cared for Bandit together.

"It was Thomas' dog, but I helped Thomas take care of the dog," she said. "It was, like, our dog."

After Bandit's death, she said, she saw the dog's remains in the trash at her house.

"It was a dog's head, and the body parts, skin, she said. "It looked like my dog. Our dog."

Huggins' relatives told investigators he might suffer from mental illness, according to police records.

Huggins, who could spend up to five years in prison, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 19. After the verdict was read Thursday, he asked Judge Samantha Ward if he could receive his sentence right away.

"I don't think you'd like my sentence if I sentenced you right now," Ward said.

Peter Jamison can be reached at pjamison@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3337. Follow him on Twitter @petejamison.

Jury finds Tampa man guilty of butchering, eating puppy 11/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, November 21, 2013 11:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. HomeTeam 100: Players 21-30

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA - Jesuit linebacker Anthony Nelson will help lead the Tigers into the 2017 season. Taken 5-17-17 by Scott Purks
  2. For starters: Cobb on the hill against Orioles

    Blogs

     

  3. Ros-Lethinen: Trump wrong on transgender ban

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON - Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen criticized President Trump's announced ban on transgender people serving in the military.

    Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
  4. Odorizzi on disabled list with lower back strain

    Blogs

    Odorizzi (6-4, 4.47) has been victimized this season by the long ball, allowing 23 home runs in his 18 starts. He will miss starts in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium and against the homer-happy Astros in Houston next week.

    Jake Odorizzi was placed on the 10-day disabled list this morning.
  5. Another Pinellas foreclosure auction fools bidders, raises questions

    Real Estate

    For the second time in six weeks, a company connected to lawyer Roy C. Skelton was poised to profit from a Pinellas County foreclosure auction that confused even experienced real estate investors.

    A Palm Harbor company bid  $112,300 for  this Largo townhome at a foreclosure auction July 21 not realizing the auction involved a second mortgage, connected to lawyer and  real estate investor Roy Skelton -- and that the bank could still foreclose on the  first mortgage.
[SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN   |   Times]