Woman stands by man accused of killing her dog 

The case against a man accused of kicking his girlfriend’s dog to death has bite behind the bark, prosecutors say.

Ariel Aspedilla, 26, of Manteca, was in court Wednesday to face felony animal abuse charges in a case that has triggered nearly 500 e-mails to the District Attorney’s Office.

Aspedilla has pleaded not guilty to two counts of animal cruelty in the death of Chiquita, a 5-year-old, 10-pound Chihuahua-miniature pinscher mix.

Prosecutors say Aspedilla was alone with Chiquita in his girlfriend’s Redwood City apartment when he kicked the dog four or five times after it soiled the bed.

The kicks from the 6-foot-1-inch, 160-pound man fractured five of Chiquita’s ribs, punctured her lungs and damaged her liver, according to prosecutors. The dog died shortly after reaching an animal hospital.

Aspedilla’s girlfriend, 22-year-old Elyssa Palmer, testified at a preliminary hearing Wednesday that she left work March 6 after Aspedilla called to tell her Chiquita was sick. Palmer described finding the dog limp and then rushing her to a vet.

Aspedilla confessed to her later that day that he had "budged" Chiquita several times with his foot, then kicked her once, Palmer said.

Outside of court, Palmer said she had forgiven Aspedilla. The two are expecting a child together.

"I know this man. He is very family-oriented. He loves kids and he has a dog of his own that he loves. This was a freak accident that happened inthe heat of the moment," she said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said his office has received nearly 500 e-mails with the same subject line: "Please ensure justice for Chiquita."

"Nearly all of the e-mails are from San Mateo County citizens," Wagstaffe said. "I tell them they can rest assured we’ll seek justice in this case as we do in any case."

Aspedilla faces three years in prison if convicted. He remains in jail on $50,000 bail.

tbarak@examiner.com

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