Record sentence proposed in animal cruelty case

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The man at the center of a dog fighting investigation, just convicted of animal cruelty, could be in store for a precedent-setting sentence.

On Tuesday, Palm Beach County Judge Marni Bryson put off sentencing 39-year-old Roderick Shelton, saying she was just made aware of his extensive criminal history. She said she wanted more time to study his record.

This past Thursday, a jury convicted Shelton of three counts of animal cruelty, and three more counts of improper confinement of an animal.

This latest case for Shelton started in March of last year. A neighbor called police, concerned about the welfare of multiple dogs, including puppies, at a Boynton Beach home.

When officers arrived, they found dogs tethered to fences, and hiding in trash and debris. At least some panted heavily with no source of shelter or shade.

Prosecutors are asking for the maximum sentence for Shelton, on all six misdemeanor counts, which would give Shelton a total of six years in jail. Those familiar with the legal system said this would be a local record for a cruelty case.

Prosecutors said they are seeking the six years due to the facts of the current case, and Shelton's long criminal history, which includes 14 violent criminal convictions and 27 misdemeanors.

"It will be precedent-setting," said Boynton Beach Animal Control Investigator Liz Roehrich. "The fact that she's willing to entertain that, I'm extremely appreciative."

Judge Bryson reset the sentencing for August 19.

For now, Roderick Shelton remains in custody at the Palm Beach County Jail.

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