Cops Say He Kidnapped, Killed Dog

Aggravated cruelty to animals is a felony
Jose J. Galvez-Garcia was led into East Hampton Town Justice Court on Tuesday afternoon. Police say he choked and stabbed a relative’s dog to death. Doug Kuntz

A 21-year-old landscaper who kidnapped and killed his aunt’s dog did so because he was upset with his aunt, a prosecutor alleged in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Tuesday.

East Hampton Town police said Jose J. Galvez-Garcia, who most recently lived on Woodbine Drive in Springs, took the 4-year-old dog, named Simba, from the front yard of his aunt’s house on Thomas Avenue in East Hampton on Sunday evening. He then drove to a secluded area off Breeze Hill Road near Three Mile Harbor in Springs and choked and repeatedly stabbed the dog until it died, police said.

At Mr. Galvez-Garcia’s arraignment Tuesday afternoon, Stacy Skorupa, an assistant district attorney, said he had driven to his mother and stepfather’s house “acting weird and erratic” at around 7 or 8 p.m. on Sunday. They told police he seemed upset and said he had been on the beach. They noticed blood on the inside of the jacket he was wearing, but he said he had spilled a Coke. His mother then looked outside and noticed a dent in his car. Moving closer, she saw dog hair inside it, Ms. Skorupa said in court.

His stepfather called Mr. Galvez-Garcia’s uncle because he knew they had been worried about the missing dog, Ms. Skorupa said. Family members went to search the beach parking area where Mr. Galvez-Garcia said he had been. Simba’s mutilated carcass was found in the woods about 50 feet from the road, police said.

During a police interview later, Mr. Galvez-Garcia admitted he tried to snap the dog’s neck and choke it, and then stabbed it with a knife from his mother’s kitchen to make sure it was dead. A veterinarian who examined the carcass determined the dog’s neck had indeed been broken, and Mr. Galvez-Garcia was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony.

He told police he had taken a shovel from his stepfather’s landscaping trailer to bury the dog, but was too drunk to finish doing so, though he had started to dig a hole. Police found the shovel near the scene. They also confiscated the bloody jacket and the dog’s collar, which was found on the roadside where Mr. Galvez-Garcia had thrown it. He also told police he had tossed the knife out his car window.

According to a press release, Mr. Galvez-Garcia said “he carried out the act because he was angry with the way he had been treated.” What he was angry about was not explained to Justice Lisa R. Rana during his arraignment Tuesday afternoon. During the arraignment, Ms. Skorupa, the assistant district attorney, said Mr. Galvez-Garcia had slept on a couch at his mother and stepfather’s house on Cedar Drive in Springs in the days leading up to the incident, but was living in his car for the most part after having been kicked out of a rented room in a house on Woodbine Drive.

A native of El Salvador, Mr. Galvez-Garcia has been in the United States on a temporary visa and has been living in East Hampton for about three years, Ms. Skorupa said. He had worked for his stepfather’s landscaping business, but no longer does so, she said.

Ms. Skorpua called Mr. Galvez-Garcia a flight risk and asked that his bail be set at $50,000. His attorney, Cynthia Darrell, said her client has no prior convictions and pointed out that despite the allegations he was entitled to a trial. She asked for minimal bail.

Justice Rana set bail at $25,000, or $50,000 bond. She said the defendant was “very transient” and noted that several members of his extended family — his aunt, uncle, mother, and stepfather — had sought orders of protection. “This is very concerning to the court that he could leave the country,” she said.

The order of protection for his mother and stepfather requires him to stay away from their home, business, and places of employment for one year. At their request, he would be allowed to communicate with them, in part so they could visit him if he remained in custody. The order of protection for his aunt and uncle requires him to stay away and have no communication with them for one year. Mr. Galvez-Garcia quietly answered yes when asked through a translator whether he understood the terms of the orders.

He is in the custody of the Suffolk County sheriff’s office, and is due back in court tomorrow. If he is not indicted by then, he could be released on his own recognizance.

Detectives have asked that anyone with information call police at 631-537-7575. All calls will be kept confidential.