A 21-year-old Springs man was arrested Monday in Montauk by East Hampton Town police after he allegedly tortured and killed his aunt and uncle’s pet dog, a small Cockapoo. The Cockapoo, a 4-year-old named Simba, had its neck snapped, and was stabbed repeatedly Sunday afternoon by Jose J. Galvez-Garcia, police said. The body of the tortured animal was found Monday morning in a swampy area about 50 feet from the end of Breeze Hill Road in Marina Lane Waterside Park, where Galvez-Garcia’s mother, stepfather, and uncle were searching for Simba.
Galvez-Garcia was charged with a felony count of aggravated cruelty to an animal.
Prosecutor Stacy Skorupa described the events that led up to the incident during Galvez-Garcia’s arraignment in East Hampton Town Justice Court before Justice Lisa Rana Tuesday.
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 car 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.”
When he returned home at about 8 PM, he was in an agitated state. He told his family he had gone to look for food, but that the stores were closed. 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 car, which had a new dent. Inside the vehicle were dog hairs.
Skorupa said Galvez-Garcia went to sleep. The stepfather called the uncle. Early Monday morning, 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 car, 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 in Montauk.
Galvez-Garcia gave a full confession to detectives, Skorupa said. He told police he had gone to his mother’s house after taking the dog and took a kitchen knife, 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 had been drinking, according to the police. Leaving the shovel behind, he allegedly 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 car as evidence, along with Galvez-Garcia’s allegedly bloodstained clothing and sneakers.
“The defendant gave a full confession, and said he killed the dog because he was angry at his aunt for the way she had treated him,” Skorupa said.
On Tuesday, 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 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. Galvez-Garcia remained in county jail as of Wednesday, pending his indictment.