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Some seek tough sentence in cat case

Tony Holt Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 04:54 PM

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The conviction was a big step, but not the biggest.

Some of those who want to see justice for stray kittens Drake and Dexter say they won't be satisfied until the woman convicted of killing them receives a steep sentence, one involving jail time.

Wilana Frazier, 25, a Brooksville mother of four, was convicted Thursday on two counts of animal cruelty and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Drake and Dexter were beaten with a baseball bat the afternoon of June 10, 2011, at Hill 'n Dale Community Park.

Drake was found dead at the bottom of a trash can by a Hernando County sheriff's deputy. Dexter suffered brain damage and was euthanized two months later.

"This case was particularly disturbing to the public because the crime was committed against defenseless animals and in front of small children," said Sheriff Al Nienhuis.

"I'm glad that my deputies and detectives were able to gather enough information and evidence to allow the criminal justice system to do its job."

Three children said they witnessed Frazier and one of her sons beating the kittens. Their testimony was the crux of the state's case against Frazier.

One of the kids said he picked up Dexter and took him to his house about a block from the park.

An animal services officer brought the 6-week-old kitten to an emergency veterinary center for treatment. He was then taken to a local pet shelter, where he remained under the care of an employee who adopted him.

Dexter failed to respond to medications and his seizures were becoming more frequent. He had to be put down, but not before thousands of people across the country signed a petition seeking justice for him.

The case also generated interest from Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who authored a bill — named Dexter's Law — in an effort to establish an animal abuse registry in Florida.

The bill didn't get a sponsor in the House. Fasano is running for a House seat in November and he said he intends to pursue the matter again during next year's Legislative session.

"We will definitely either file a bill or try to amend it to another bill," he said. "It's definitely a priority of ours."

He said an animal abuse registry is needed for pet stores, shelters and adoption agencies to keep track of those who are unfit to have a pet. Otherwise, Frazier could adopt a pet after her release from jail.

Frazier "is the last person on earth to ever own another pet," he said. "She should never be allowed to have another animal."

Betty Dobson, a local activist who attended portions of the trial Wednesday and Thursday and who campaigned for Dexter's Law, said Frazier deserves nothing less than a year in jail.

She said she was offended by Frazier's behavior in court, including showing up more than 30 minutes late the day of her verdict.

"The courtroom deserves respect, and she showed that judge no respect," Dobson said. "I'm hoping the guilty verdict will catapult Dexter's Law into the next session. We need to show people that Florida is not going to tolerate animal cruelty and abuse. Maybe little Dexter didn't die in vain after all."

Judy Volkman of Brooksville said she read every news clipping she could find about the case. She said she was overjoyed by the news of Frazier's guilty verdict.

"I hope this really sends a message to other people who abuse animals," she said.

She called the children who testified at Frazier's trial "heroes."

Frazier is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 2 in Hernando County Circuit Court. (352) 544-5283

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