by Sam Levin
In the early-morning hours of October 9, 2011, Charles Zidek, a 37-year-old Chesterfield man, broke into his ex-girlfriend's home through a basement window and "tortured" her Italian greyhound, Vinny.
Prosecutors say Zidek threw the dog against a wall, injuring him so badly that he eventually had to be put to sleep. The woman was not at home at the time of the attack.
Now, two years later, a St. Charles county jury has ruled that Zidek is guilty of both second-degree felony burglary and felony animal abuse.
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"The injuries to Vinny caused by Zidek were of such severity that Vinny was euthanized at the recommendation of a treating veterinarian," the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's Office says in a statement announcing the guilty verdict yesterday.
"This is incredibly vile and cruel torture towards a helpless animal," assistant prosecutor Philip Groenweghe said in his closing remarks at trial. "Because a woman had the nerve to tell him she didn't want anything to do with him again."
The defense had argued that there was no definitive proof that Zidek -- who did not testify during the trial this week -- was the one responsible for the dog's injuries.
The jury apparently was unconvinced.
His ex and her two children owned Vinny, prosecutors say.
Yesterday, a veterinarian who treated Vinny at an emergency clinic testified that the dog suffered trauma "due to multiple blows to the head," the Post-Dispatch reports. The dog also reportedly had a broken and severely displaced leg and his eyelids were swollen shut.
Authorities said that blood found in the house, near the damaged window where the suspect broke in, matched Zidek's DNA, according to the P-D.
Zidek will face sentencing in September and could get up to eleven years behind bars.