OAG asks Supreme Court to reinstate felony animal abuse charges against Pugua’s killer

Pugua was one of the pets allegedly shot and killed in Yigo by Gerald Wayne Cruz. (PNC graphic by Ricky De Guzman)

In a brief filed Wednesday with the Supreme Court of Guam, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) detailed why it believes the Superior Court of Guam made a mistake when it dismissed felony animal abuse charges against Gerald Wayne Cruz II.

The case arises out of allegations that Cruz used a .22 caliber rifle to shoot, seriously injure, and kill a family pet named Pugua and a neighboring cat.

“It is unacceptable for anyone to shoot, beat, poison or kill an animal,” said Attorney General Leevin Taitano Camacho in the release.

It is a felony crime under Guam law to cause serious physical injury to, or to cruelly cause the death of, an animal. Cruz was initially charged with cruelly causing Pugua’s death but the trial court dismissed those charges.

The trial court found that even if Cruz shot Pugua and the cat, he did not do so in a cruel manner. The trial court held that it was “difficult to think of a less cruel way to kill an animal than by death by gunshot.”

The OAG then charged Cruz with felony animal abuse, alleging that he caused serious physical injury to Pugua based on evidence that Pugua likely suffered excruciating pain before he died. The trial court again dismissed the charges, holding that the OAG could not charge Cruz with causing serious physical injury to the animals because the animals died.

In its brief, the OAG argues the animal abuse law makes it a felony to cause serious physical injury to an animal, even in cases where the animal dies. The OAG also points out that the Legislature made it a felony to cause serious physical injury to an animal in order to strengthen the punishment for animal abuse. The OAG has asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the felony animal abuse charges.

Assistant Attorney General Alysa Draper-Dehart and Senior Law Clerk Jessica Lee are assisting in the matter for the OAG.