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This image released by the McLean County Sheriff's Department on Dec. 22, 2017, shows a vehicle driving away after the driver dumped the bodies of two dogs. On Tuesday, Gary Eustice of Normal was sentenced to 24 months conditional discharge for aggravated animal cruelty.

BLOOMNGTON — A Normal man has been sentenced to 24 months on conditional discharge for aggravated animal cruelty in the deaths of two dogs a year ago.

A charge of littering for dumping the dead animals along Twin Grove Road west of Bloomington was dismissed in September. Police became involved when a witness took a photo of a vehicle as it sped away after the driver dumped the bodies of the animals.

Eustice, 72, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, a Class 4 felony. Two counts accusing him of euthanizing companion animals were dismissed.

In a statement to Judge Casey Costigan at his sentencing hearing, Eustice apologized for his decision to kill the animals that he said were left with his family. 

Eustice said his actions were taken "not with malice, a fit of anger or for sport." Instead, Eustice said he wanted to save the cost of having the dogs legally euthanized by a vet, according to his statement.

The defendant said he was "clueless" that his actions were criminal. 

The judge acknowledged Eustice's long history of dog ownership, including his volunteer work with taking therapy dogs to nursing homes. He also noted reports of the advanced age and aggressive nature of the dogs.

The sentence of conditional discharge — and 200 hours of community service with an organization that helps animals — was necessary to deter others from harming animals, said the judge.

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Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny

McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.

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