Man takes plea in death of dog found violently killed in Utica park

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A man has pleaded no contest in the death of a dog who was found stabbed to death and underneath a picnic table in below freezing temperatures in January.

Alexander Gerth pleaded no contest to the charge of killing/torturing an animal in the death of the dog, Sterling, who was found violently killed on January 24th.

Sterling, a medium sized, two-year-old, mixed breed brown dog, was stabbed several times and left under a picnic table at Grant Park in Utica. Officials said there was a trail of blood from a nearby trash can to where he was found dead.

According to prosecutor Eric Smith's office, Gerth originally applied to adopt Sterling but was denied because of his living situation. Smith's office said he convinced a friend to adopt the dog and then Gerth moved the dog into his apartment.

The owner who had legally adopted Sterling was not identified as a suspect and said he had adopted 3-year-old dog from the Michigan Humane Society less than a month before his death.

He told police the dog had gone missing the day before he was found dead. 

"Sterling was maliciously tortured and left to die in the elements," said Smith in a press release. "My office is fully committed to prosecuting every animal abuse case to the fullest extent under the law."

Gerth will be sentenced on April 23 but will not be subject to the new legislation that increases penalties on crimes against animals. That would have been a 10-year felony but Gerth will not have to serve that time. It's not know what his setnence will be.

The new sentencing guidelines go into effect for all crimes committed after March 28, 2019.