RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A Columbia man was sentenced to five years in prison for the 2016 crime where he set his girlfriend's puppy on fire in a vengeful act in a church parking lot.
Hykeem Dontavious Jabar Golson is just the second person in South Carolina to be sentenced to the maximum for felony animal cruelty. He was also sentenced to pay a $5,000 fine.
During the investigation, Golson admitted to the crime and allegedly told a Richland County Sheriff's Department investigator, when asked if he was sorry, said: "Definitely, I feel sorry the dog did not light the first time."
A witness said he was walking his dogs in the neighborhood when he heard yelping noises and saw something on fire. He said he knew immediately it was an animal. He said the man burning the puppy began walking toward him so he rushed to get his animals to safety and called 911.
Shortly after the witness called authorities, deputies said the man ran off.
The 10-week-old puppy did not survive his injuries.
Animal advocacy groups in the Midlands are championing this ruling.
"It is a great day in South Carolina for our companion pets," says Denise Wilkinson, CEO of Pawmetto Lifeline. "While an innocent life was lost in the most horrific manner, justice was delivered. We must continue to fight the fight and hold people accountable for these crimes."
Pawmetto Lifeline also lauded Judge Jocelyn Newman for her ruling. Judge Newman said in court that "she could not imagine a more horrific manner in which to die."
"Pawmetto Lifeline would like to thank Judge Newman for being the voice for the voiceless and sending a strong message to offenders that abuse of animals is not acceptable in our legal system," the organization said.