Public Information Officer Klare Ly announced to Historic City News that Randal Bryan Hart, the 28-year-old St Johns County man accused of stabbing his dog, Amber, and slashing her throat with a knife before dragging her into the woods to die, pled “no contest” today in open court.
After Hart was arrested in this tragic case of animal abuse, reported by Historic City News on January 14, 2013, he admitted attempting to kill his dog. Hart claimed that the dog attacked a kitten and needed to be “put down”; however, the investigator at the scene was able to locate the kitten — it was playing with another dog on the property.
No injuries to the kitten were observed. By February 4, the State Attorney had announced that he would prosecute the man who attacked his dog.
On April 1, we reported that Hart wanted to withdraw his guilty plea, fire the public defender, and announced that he would be represented by a private defense attorney, Jeremiah Mulligan.
Hart argued that, because of his diagnosed schizophrenia and prescribed medications, although he verbally indicated he understood the charges against him and the plea that he was entering, his medical condition prevented him from fully understanding the nature and consequences involved in such a decision.
So, for the second time, Circuit Judge Michael Traynor has scheduled a sentencing hearing for July 19th at 8:30 a.m. based on this morning’s plea. Hart is charged with Cruelty to Animals, a third-degree felony.