RENO, Nev. (AP) — Animal rights activists rallied outside a Nevada courthouse Thursday before a judge set another hearing next month for a 24-year-old man accused of beheading and dismembering several dogs.
Jason Brown faces seven felony counts of willfully torturing and killing dogs and two counts of possession of methamphetamine. If convicted of all counts, he could face more than 20 years in prison.
Half a dozen members of Nevada Voters for Animals said they were demonstrating in support of the maximum punishment if Brown is convicted. They waved signs that said "Accountability for Animal Cruelty" at passing traffic in downtown Reno.
Justice of the Peace Patricia Lynch set Brown's preliminary hearing for Nov. 18.
Brown was arrested in July after detectives say they found a decapitated dog and four dog heads in a small refrigerator in his Reno motel room. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
His lawyer, John Oakes, did not immediately return a telephone call or email from The Associated Press seeking comment Thursday. He told the Reno Gazette-Journal earlier that Brown has mental health issues and might need a psychiatric evaluation before he goes to trial.
More than 2,000 people from the U.S., Mexico and Europe have signed the voter group's online petition calling for maximum prosecution of Brown. Several also have made direct appeals in letters to the judge.
"It is my belief that any person capable of committing such horrendous and depraved acts of violence against animals will at some point escalate to committing acts of violence against human beings," wrote Cheri Vaillancour of Redwood City, California. "Please keep this animal behind bars."
Authorities said they were called to the Super 8 in south Reno after a maid reported the discovery in Brown's room.
Two of the heads matched the description of a pair of Chihuahuas that Nancy Frank, of Sun Valley, told police she sold to Brown days earlier. Officers also found two bloody kitchen knives, scissors and two dog collars with rabies tags registered to Frank, along with dog dishes, blankets and tennis balls she gave Brown to help make her pets happy.
Washoe County Sheriff's Detective Joe Bowen wrote in a probable cause report that a lifelong friend of Brown, Cheryl Bluhm, told police the day of his arrest that Brown talked about having "urges of rage" during a June 25 telephone conversation. The next day, she said, Brown told her he had killed his friend's dog and it "made him high," Bowen wrote.
According to the report, Bluhm said she asked Brown if he had the same urges toward humans, and he told her that "dogs are good for right now."