The 21-year-old Springs man accused of torturing and killing a small dog could get as light a sentence as probation without more jail time, he was told in county court last week.
Jose Jesus Galvez-Garcia was arrested December 3 in Montauk by East Hampton Town police after he allegedly tortured and killed his aunt and uncle’s pet dog, a cockapoo. The dog, a four-year-old named Simba, had its neck snapped, and was stabbed repeatedly December 2 by Galvez-Garcia, police said. The dog’s body was found the morning after in a swampy area about 50 feet from the end of Breeze Hill Road in Marina Lane Waterside Park.
Galvez-Garcia was charged with a felony count of aggravated cruelty to an animal.
He was initially arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court December 4. Felony cases cannot be tried in a town court, so his case was scheduled to be brought before a grand jury Thursday, December 6. However, that morning, Stephen Grossman, an attorney who had been retained by a relative of Galvez-Garcia, entered into a deal with the district attorney’s office. As part of that process, Grossman waived his client’s right to have his case presented to a grand jury, instead taking the case straight to district court. On Friday, December 7, in the courtroom of New York State Justice Mark Cohen, Galvez-Garcia was arraigned.
Grossman appeared prepared that morning to enter a guilty plea, but, before that could happen, under the law, Grossman and the judge agreed, Galvez-Garcia would have to meet with an immigration attorney. Galvez-Garcia, a native of El Salvador, is in the country on a work visa, and faces possible deportation.
Justice Cohen told Galvez-Garcia that he faces a possible maximum “indeterminate” sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison. “It could be less,” Justice Cohen then said. “It could be as little as probation.”
Galvez-Garcia, who was interviewed by a Spanish-speaking detective on December 3, gave a lengthy confession, police said. In his statement, he reportedly told police he drinks heavily, “because it makes me feel better.” He was also quoted as saying, “I was abused for many years as a young child in El Salvador.” His mother was in the United States at the time, working, he told police.
During Galvez-Garcia’s initial arraignment in East Hampton December 4 before Town Justice Lisa Rana, prosecutor Stacy Skorupa described the events that led up to the incident.
Skorupa said that Galvez-Garcia had just moved to a house on Cedar Drive with his mother and stepfather, who were seated in the front row of the courtroom, after living out of his 2014 Nissan for some time. Prior to that, he had been evicted from a house he had been staying in on Woodbine Drive.
Galvez-Garcia arrived at the Cedar Drive house early Sunday evening. Along with his mother and stepfather, his siblings were present.
“He appeared to be acting weird and erratic. His family felt that he was hiding something,” Skorupa said. “He said that he had been at the beach earlier. A short time after that he left in his car.” In his confession, Galvez-Garcia said that he had bought a case of beer earlier, and that he had been drinking steadily through the day.
When he returned home at about 8 PM, he was in an agitated state. When he took off his jacket, Skorupa said, “One of his family members noticed that he had blood on the inside of his jacket. When asked about it, he said he had spilled some Coke on his jacket.”
The family then received a call from the aunt and uncle, reporting Simba’s disappearance. Galvez-Garcia overheard the call, and told his family that “somebody must have grabbed him,” Skorupa told the court. At that point, she said, the mother and stepfather went out and looked at Galvez-Garcia’s Nissan, which had a new dent. Inside the vehicle were dog hairs.
Skorupa said Galvez-Garcia then fell asleep on the couch. The stepfather called the uncle. Early on December 3, the mother, stepfather, and uncle went to the beach to search for the dog. At one point, Skorupa told the court, Galvez-Garcia arrived at the beach in his Nissan, only to speed away when he saw the others.
The stepfather found a shovel, which he recognized as one from the landscaping company he owns. Near it was a partially dug grave. A short distance away, in the swampy water, was Simba’s body, the prosecutor told the court.
Police said the dog’s body was “badly mutilated.”
After they were notified, police began looking for Galvez-Garcia, who was pulled over that afternoon in Montauk. He told police he had driven out to Montauk Point, where he sat in his car, drinking beer.
Order of Protection
In his confession, Galvez-Garcia told police he had gone to his aunt and uncle’s house, hoping to see a friend with whom he liked to drink with. Simba was in the front yard, he reportedly told police. “The dog was familiar with me, and he came right up to me,” he allegedly told police, adding that he grabbed the dog and put it in the Nissan.
“I did it because I was drinking, and I was angry with [his aunt] for saying bad things about me.”
Galvez-Garcia then drove to his mother’s house, he said, and took a kitchen knife with a six-inch blade, along with a shovel from his stepfather’s trailer. He drove to the beach and choked the animal, then began repeatedly stabbing it. He started digging the grave, then stopped, because he was drunk and kept falling down, he allegedly told police. Leaving the shovel behind, he threw the dog’s body in the swamp, then drove off, tossing the knife out the car window. When he returned to the Cedar Drive residence, he still had the dog’s collar, which he threw into some nearby woods, he reportedly told detectives. Police recovered the collar, and confiscated the Nissan as evidence, along with Galvez-Garcia’s allegedly bloodstained clothing and sneakers.
Justice Rana issued two orders of protection, one that commands Galvez-Garcia to stay away from the aunt and uncle and their house on Thomas Avenue in East Hampton. The other order requires Galvez-Garcia to stay away from his mother’s house and his stepfather’s business, though he is allowed to still talk to his mother, who wept as the order was read from the bench.
When it came time to set bail, Skorupa described Galvez-Garcia as transient, here on a work visa from El Salvador, and a major flight risk, and asked bail to be set at $50,000. Galvez-Garcia’s attorney for the East Hampton arraignment from the Legal Aid Society, Cynthia Darrell, argued for a lower amount, saying her client had no money, and no prior criminal history. Darrell pointed out that Galvez-Garcia’s parents were in the courtroom. She said of the charges presented to the court by Skorupa, that they “are all subject to a trial. This is not a trial. This is an arraignment.”
Justice Rana noted that although Galvez-Garcia’s family was present, they were also asking for an order of protection. She set bail at $25,000, which was continued by Justice Cohen. He remained in custody as of Tuesday morning, and is due back in the courtroom of Justice Cohen January 17.
“I know that everyone must really hate me right now. I am sorry for what I’ve done,” Galvez-Garcia is quoted as saying at the end of his statement.