By Ileana Morales, St. Petersburg Times
A Valrico man pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to animal cruelty charges in a case where Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies entered his home to serve a warrant and ended up shooting and killing his lunging pit bulls.Garret McGall, 24, is also charged with aggravated assault and using his dogs as a weapon. He accepted a plea agreement to 18 months in state prison for these charges and a 2005 probation case.
McGall will be credited for days spent in jail since his arrest on March 10.
After the hearing, McGall's attorney, Michael Celso Gonzalez, declined to explain the decision to enter a plea, but he said, "Technically there are some problems with the state's case."
Judge Manuel Lopez asked prosecuters how McGall abused his own pit bulls when deputies shot and killed the dogs.
"They charged him with cruelty to animals?" Lopez asked. "How did he commit to cruelty to animals?"
The dogs "suffered for a short time" because McGall refused to secure the lunging pit bulls, according to an arrest affidavit.
On Tuesday, prosecutors said McGall had ordered the dogs to lunge at the deputies.
McGall told Lopez that was true.
"I wasn't thinking, sir," McGall said.