WAILUKU - For the first felony animal cruelty conviction in Maui County, a man was sentenced Thursday to a six-month jail term for bludgeoning his dog to death.
"This is unacceptable," 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said as he imposed the sentence on Kimo Kidder, 36.
Kidder also was placed on five years' probation.
He had pleaded no contest to first-degree cruelty to animals in the killing of the dog. The young pit bull mix was found dead when police responded to a homeless campsite on an empty lot at Lower Main Street and Waiehu Beach Road at 8:54 p.m. April 29.
Police said the dog had been hit on the head with a hammer and was heard yelping.
Defense attorney Cary Virtue said he believed that Kidder's mental health issues played a part in what happened.
Bissen said a report to the court indicated that Kidder, who was living at the campsite with his partner and the dog, was homeless after he chose not to go to a residence where his case manager had placed him because his partner couldn't go with him.
Bissen said Kidder has a lengthy prior record of more than 30 arrests and 24 convictions, including one for a felony offense, first-degree terroristic threatening.
"But this may be the most egregious of all of them," he said.
Referring to Kidder's explanation for "killing this helpless dog with the hammer," Bissen asked Kidder, "What job was the dog not doing?"
"I just don't want to get into it," Kidder replied.
"Why didn't you just take it to the shelter, give it away? Did you consider that?" Bissen said.
"Yeah, now I do," Kidder said.
"You don't seem too bothered by what you did," Bissen told Kidder. "That's a brutal way to kill any animal. Do you even get that?"
Kidder answered, "Yeah."
A plea agreement between the defense and prosecution called for Kidder to be released Thursday, when he had already spent 73 days in jail.
But Bissen ordered the longer six-month jail term.
The judge ordered Kidder not to consume alcohol or illegal drugs and to undergo a mental health assessment.
"The defense appreciates the court's sensitivity in sentencing Mr. Kidder on this troubling case," Virtue said after the sentencing. "I think the court's order for a mental health assessment was very appropriate and needed."
Kidder's conviction was the first in Maui County for the felony charge of first-degree animal cruelty, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, said Deputy Prosecutor Carson Tani.
The charge applies when someone intentionally tortures, mutilates or poisons an animal.
"The prosecutor's office will vigorously prosecute these animal cruelty cases," Tani said outside of court. "You can't have people torturing defenseless animals."
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.