Opening arguments were heard Wednesday in the case against an Atwater man charged with beating a stray dog to death with a board earlier this year.
Lorenzo Segundo, 19, has pleaded not guilty to a felony count of animal cruelty in connection with the death of a brown Chihuahua mix. If convicted, the defendant could face up to three years in prison, authorities said previously.
A jury was quickly selected early Wednesday before Merced Superior Court Judge Ronald W. Hansen.
The Merced County District Attorney’s Office called its key eyewitness, Liliana Reyes, who testified that she saw the alleged beating. Two Atwater police officers also testified Wednesday.
Thomas Minn, the Merced County deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, said he hopes to conclude his portion of the trial today.
Defense attorney Tony Green said he expects to calls his own witnesses today and said the case could be handed to the jury as early as this afternoon.
“My client is adament that he did not do this and he insists this is a case of mistaken identity,” Green said Wednesday.
Atwater police responded at 7:38 p.m. July 9 in the 2800 block of Muir Avenue, where witnesses reported that Segundo had beaten the dog with a board from a fence, striking the animal up to seven times.
Police said Segundo attacked the Chihuahua after it approached his own dog and, following the alleged attack, he threw the dog’s body into a trash bin.
The animal suffered fractures to its eye socket, skull and vertebrae, and bled from its right ear and mouth. It likely died from head trauma, police said.
Segundo was arrested and later released on bail.
Police said he refused to answer any questions when first confronted by investigators, according to reports.
Segundo was questioned last year in connection with the alleged shooting of another dog with a BB gun, but no charges were ever filed because prosecutors said there was not enough evidence, according to previous reports.
Testimony resumes at 10 a.m. today.