They were watching television news when a picture of their former dog’s pink and gold painted toenails appeared.
The pitbull mix they knew as Snow was found dead, stabbed, tortured and strangled, abandoned in a vacant lot. Police were trying to find the owners, but they had rehomed the dog two weeks earlier because their landlord wouldn’t allow pets. They told police they gave the dog to Craig L. Smith, 55.
When police went to Smith, he initially denied having a dog. His girlfriend told police her boyfriend said Snow ran away.
It was then that Smith told police that he was walking Snow on March 3 when the dog bit his pants, tripping him. Smith fell to the ground, according to testimony, and began swinging a box cutter, striking the dog in the neck, side and legs.
A necropsy was performed on the dog’s remains to determine the cause of death.
Smith pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated cruelty to an animal. He was then released from St. Clair County Jail by Circuit Judge Zina Cruse until his sentencing Sept. 5. Prosecutors objected to his release.
Smith had been held in St. Clair County Jail since his arrest on March 4 in lieu of $75,000 bail.
As part of the plea, Smith agreed not to have contact with any witnesses in his case and not to possess any dogs or cats.
Snow was found on March 2 in the 400 block of Catawba Avenue by a Belleville city worker. Snow had a plastic bag tied around her neck and had been stabbed in the neck, sides and legs with a box cutter, according the charges.
Smith lived in an apartment at 1306 W. Main St., and a neighbor reported seeing a boy walking a dog matching Snow’s description in the area, but he hadn’t seen the dog for several days before the body was discovered.
Smith faces a sentencing range of probation to three years in prison on the charge.