A Toledo man who tried to steal an assistance dog from a disabled woman on a TARTA bus in July pleaded guilty today to robbery and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Quincy T. Mathews, 20, of 2406 Rockspring Rd., pleaded guilty before Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Gene Zmuda in exchange for the agreed-upon two-year sentence. He told the court, though, that he didn’t intend to steal the dog.
“Prior to me exiting the bus, I reached for what I thought was her purse, but it was the leash for her dog,” Mathews said.
He said that when he realized his mistake, he let it go and ran off the bus. The dog's owner, Arrica Okenka, received a cut to her middle finger when he yanked at the leash.
Ms. Okenka, who was in court with her assistance dog, Ingrid, told the court she had approved the plea agreement, but said she was angry that Mathews had lied about what happened.
She said that before she boarded the bus that day, Mathews saw Ingrid retrieve a card that she dropped -- an action she and Ingrid demonstrated for the court -- and Mathews proceeded to ask her questions about whether her dog would attack someone to defend her. She said she had allowed Mathews to use her cell phone and she at first thought he was thinking of stealing her phone when he asked her those kinds of questions.
Ms. Okenka said she is certain he would have taken off with her dog had the leash not been wrapped so tightly around her hand.
“She means a lot to me,” Ms. Okenka told the court. “A lot of people take pride in their dog, but this dog doesn’t leave my side.”