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D.C. man gets four months for killing sleeping puppy

A District man was sentenced Tuesday to 120 days in jail — 30 days longer than prosecutors had requested — for dropping a concrete slab on the head of a sleeping puppy.

Sean Delontay Branch, 24, pleaded guilty to one count of felony cruelty to animals in September in connection with the killing of the 6-month-old dog, known as “King Tut,” behind a Northeast Washington convenience store.

Prosecutors had said that on the morning of June 29, Branch dropped a 90-pound concrete slab on the pit bull-terrier mix as he slept tied to a fence behind the Circle Seven Express store in the 1200 block of Mount Olivet Road NE.

On Tuesday in D.C. Superior Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalia Medina Burnett said Branch was angry with the dog’s owner because he mistakenly believed that the man had stolen money and cigarettes from him the night before.

Burnett told the judge that the dog’s owner, who was not present at the sentencing, had been sleeping in a District homeless shelter but decided to sleep on the street because the shelter did not permit pets.

Before he was sentenced, Branch said he accidentally dropped the slab on the dog’s head as he was moving it. The dog woke and nipped his hand, Branch said, causing him to drop the slab.

“I didn’t drop that brick on the dog on purpose,” Branch said.

But Judge Herbert B. Dixon said he thought that it was done intentionally. “I don’t think you have an appreciation for what that says about a person,” Dixon said of the dog’s killing. Dixon ordered Branch to undergo anger-management classes during three years of supervised probation after his release from jail.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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