HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The Florida man accused in the brutal stabbing death of a pit bull named Ollie is facing 17 counts of aggravated animal cruelty — one for each of 16 deep stab wounds and one for trapping the dog inside a suitcase.
Prosecutors filed formal charges Friday against Brendan Evans, 31, of Hollywood, who remains behind bars in Broward County Jail.
"We think this is the right thing to do," Assistant State Attorney Alex Urruela said of the decision to charge Evans with multiple counts of animal cruelty.
Evans' defense attorney, Sarah Anne Mourer, says her client and his family are saddened by the death of Ollie.
"Brendan is a young man whose life has been fraught with pain, hardship and major mental illness," she said in an email. "For years, Brendan has been frustrated by the Florida health care system and desperately seeking psychiatric help. On more than 30 occasions he has attempted to obtain care, admitting himself to hospitals or health care facilities. Each time, Brendan failed to receive a proper diagnosis or receive appropriate treatment."
Vets expected Ollie to survive, despite more than 50 stab wounds. But he died Oct. 12, two days after being found near an abandoned home on Lee Street, not far from Evans' apartment.
Urruela said he called the pathologist who performed a necropsy on Ollie to determine how many times he had been stabbed. The pathologist counted at least 16 deep stab wounds in addition to several superficial wounds, he said.
Evans was arrested the day after police searched his apartment on Nov. 14 and found two cat paws and several mutilated rats in the freezer, some with severed heads, legs and tails. They also found knives covered with dried blood, including an 18-inch machete, a Hollywood police report said.
In social media postings, Evans claimed to be a voodoo priest and said he practiced an Afro-Caribbean religion known for animal sacrifice, according to police.
Hollywood officers arrested Evans Nov. 15 after linking his fingerprints to the burglary of a home on Aug. 23. Animal cruelty charges were added Nov. 22 after police linked Evans' DNA to the same suitcase Ollie had been trapped in.
Evans was on probation for a 2015 bank robbery outside Tampa when he was arrested on the animal cruelty and burglary charges.
That means "he can be classified as a habitual violent felony offender," Urruela said. "That doubles the penalty (on the animal cruelty charges) from five years to 10 years."
©2017 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)