A 22-year-old accused of brutally slashing and killing the family pet because he “likes to hurt dogs” will remain jailed with no chance of bail until at least next year.
Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis ordered a psychological assessment for Jeremy Espiritu during a hearing in Justice Court on Wednesday morning.
District Court Judge Linda Bell, who handles mental health cases, will rule on Espiritu’s competency in court on Jan. 3.
Las Vegas police said Espiritu snuck into his parents’ home through an unlocked side door Thursday and slashed the throat of the black Labrador mix, Serenity, while his stepfather was sleeping in a bedroom.
He did it because he “wanted to,” he told officers, according to his arrest report.
“Because you wanted to?” asked the officer.
“Yes,” Espiritu said. “I like to hurt dogs.”
Espiritu was calm in court Wednesday, only saying “good morning,” to the judge and asking about the timeline of his psychological exam.
He was arrested Thursday at his family’s home near Washington Avenue and Valley View Drive and booked at the Clark County jail on charges of killing another person’s animal. Prosecutors said Wednesday that the charge will be amended because it’s unclear whether Espiritu had any sort of ownership of the dog.
The revised charge, torturing or maiming an animal, is also a class D felony punishable by a one- to four-year term in prison.
Officers asked Espiritu if the dog had attacked or provoked him.
“Nope,” he said, according to the report. “I just wanted to stab the dog so I sat on the floor and cut its neck.”
Police found a six-inch serrated knife in the center of a puddle of blood near the kitchen.
Officer Jacoby Burns rushed the dog to an animal hospital, but Serenity died on the operating table.
The stepfather told police Espiritu was “basically homeless” and a drug abuser who didn’t live at the home. He would come to the house some days, but then disappear for weeks at a time, the report said.
According to court records, Espiritu was arrested in North Las Vegas last year for possession of methamphetamine and carrying a concealed weapon.
His stepfather told officers that the young man likely had an undiagnosed mental illness, the report said.
Espiritu’s mother spoke to prosecutors after court, although she did not speak with media. She seemed relieved to learn about her son’s upcoming exam.
“He will be evaluated,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Lucinda Coumou told Espiritu’s mother.