RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Richmond Police Department says the man who burned Tommie the dog and left him for dead was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday.
Jyahshua A. Hill, 20, was originally arrested May 20 by the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force and charged with felony animal cruelty.
“As part of a plea agreement, Hill will serve five years in prison, the maximum sentence allowable by law, without the possibility of parole,” the Richmond Police Department said in a news release. “In addition, he will have three years of post-release supervision by the court. He is also barred from owning or possessing animals for life.”
Hill was indicted by a grand jury on May 8 and arraigned May 21.
The dog suffered burns to more than 40 percent of his body after being tied to a fence post and covered in a flammable liquid. He was then lit on fire. Tommie was treated for his injuries, but later died five days later.
Hill’s wife appeared at his arraignment this past spring and claimed his name was falsely given to police so they could collect the $25,000 reward money for capturing Tommie’s killer.
She said he had never seen the dog before.
The case sparked widespread outrage and support for Tommie and Richmond Animal Care and Control. Millions of people followed Tommie’s story, and donated well over $100,000 since his traumatic event.
Investigators are crediting information from the community with helping officers solve the case.
“There are a lot of people to thank, but I’d like to single out all the citizens who contributed tips that pointed us in the right direction” saidPolice Chief William C. Smith earlier this year. “That, plus the excellent job done by arson investigators who did the bulk of the work, major crimes detectives, forensics technicians and animal control officers who all built a strong case to present to the grand jury.”
An incredible number of tips came in to both RACC and Richmond police, ultimately leading investigators to Hill.
“We had so many people reach out," said Christie Chipps Peters, director of RACC. "It’s an unbelievable case... (Richmond police) had more people from the community rally around this case, than they have seen in a very long time.”
Peters says firefighters from Engine 5, which is nearby Abner Clay Park, quickly rushed over to put out the flames.
“They literally opened their bay doors and saw him on fire and ran across the street with their fire extinguishers," she said.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has assigned two attorneys to the case; one has expertise in arson and the other in animal cruelty prosecutions.
After Tommie’s case became public, Virginia passed a law known colloquially as “Tommie’s Law” to stiffen penalties for animal abuse. The law went into effect July 1.
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