Two Convicted In County’s First Dog Fighting Trial

SPOKANE — A pair of Spokane Valley men were found guilty of animal fighting, but not guilty on several other charges when a jury reached its verdict Friday morning in Spokane County’s first ever dog fighting trial.

Peter Nelson and Alfredo Renteria were on trial, accused of keeping and training eight pit bulls for competitive use in illegal fighting matches. 

The jury found the men guilty of pitting the dogs against each other, but did not believe that the defendants transported or confined the animals in an unsafe manner, charges they were acquitted of.

Renteria also faced an individual charge of first degree animal cruelty for allegedly striking a pit bull with a metal bat and sending the dog into convulsions. However, the jury found Renteria not guilty of that charge as well.

The jury reached their verdict after two full days of deliberation.

Prosecutors tried to prove throughout the trial that an April 2007 raid at the defendants’ Spokane Valley home yielded enough evidence to convict the men of running the illegal dog fighting ring. Investigators say they found drugs and devices used to strengthen the dogs and prepare them for fighting when they discovered the eight pit bulls chained up on the property bearing wear and tear marks consistent with dog fighting.

However, defense attorneys countered that the evidence and allegations made by the prosecution were circumstantial. They maintained that there was nothing that showed the defendants ever attended or made any money off of the fights.

Sentencing for Nelson and Renteria has not yet been set, though they will face no more than 12 months in prison. It will be decided at the time of the sentencing what will happen to the dogs.