A Portland man was sentenced to 41 months in prison Monday in an animal cruelty case that a Clark County judge called "one of the most despicable things I've ever seen a person do."
A Clark County Superior Court jury found Yuri A. Feitser, 37, guilty Jan. 10 of first-degree animal cruelty and witness intimidation in the death of his girlfriend's 3-pound Yorkshire terrier.
Feitser also pleaded guilty Monday to a new charge of possession of a controlled substance by a jail inmate.
Judge Suzan Clark said Feitser brought fentanyl with him to court during his trial and disposed of it in the courtroom garbage can, where she said "it's a risk to anybody who might have touched it, including our janitorial staff."
Feitser's former girlfriend described to the judge how close she was with her dog, Romeo, and the ways her mental health has suffered since her dog's death.
Feitser apologized to his former girlfriend and noted his "profound substance abuse issue." He continued to claim the dog's death was an accident.
Clark said that after seeing the evidence during the trial, she knows the dog's death was no accident.
"That evidence was so bad that when I went back to the jury room, I had jurors crying, male jurors that tend to pride themselves on not doing that, were so upset by what they saw and what they heard," Clark said. "My bailiff couldn't stay in the courtroom when the videos were replayed during closings because the sound of that dog crying — it was about all I could do to listen to that, quite frankly. It's just beyond me how one person could do something that despicable to a defenseless creature that did nothing to you."
Clark sentenced Feitser to the top of his sentencing range, which was above the prosecutor's recommendation of 36 months.
"If this were my dog, I wouldn't feel any sentence, quite frankly, was enough, but the law says what the sentence I can give you is, and that'll be 41 months," Clark said. "If I could give you more, I would happily do so based on your behavior."
According to a probable cause affidavit, a Clark County sheriff's deputy responded at 5:32 p.m. Nov. 20, 2020, to Feitser's girlfriend's residence in the Five Corners area after she called 911 to report Feitser had abused her 7-year-old dog "so bad it was killed."
By the time the deputy arrived, Feitser had left and animal control officials were on the scene. Upstairs in the master bathroom, the dog was lying on the floor, and a large stereo was next to him, according to the affidavit.
Feitser reportedly told his girlfriend the stereo, which had been mounted on a wall, fell and killed Romeo, the affidavit says.
There was a screw sticking out of the wall where the stereo was mounted, and another appeared to be missing. Nothing was knocked off the counter below, and the girlfriend noted that some items on top of the stereo had been neatly placed on the counter, according to the affidavit.
Additionally, the deputy noted there was no damage or debris to indicate the stereo fell off the wall naturally, the affidavit says.
The girlfriend and deputy reviewed video from a security camera in the master bedroom.
In the footage, recorded about three hours prior, no one is in view, but Romeo can be heard in distress, along with a few thuds. Feitser can be heard breathing quickly, according to the affidavit.
Feitser reportedly enters the camera's view holding the dog; he runs around the house cursing, before attempting CPR on Romeo. Feitser, at one point, moves the camera twice, completely obstructing its view. The deputy who wrote the affidavit noted noise, which he alleges was likely Feitser removing the stereo from the wall, the affidavit says.
Feitser left the house with some belongings, texting his girlfriend two minutes later; he did not mention that Romeo was dead.
Later, he texted her multiple times saying he tried to resuscitate the dog and couldn't believe the stereo fell on him, according to the affidavit.
Animal control officers took the dog to perform a necropsy, according to the affidavit. The deputy wrote Romeo's condition indicated he'd been dead for several hours.