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Published: 5/16/2003

2 brothers sentenced in slaying of dog

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two Toledo brothers convicted in an animal cruelty case in which a dog's throat was slit with a machete last year in what was claimed to be a religious ritual were sentenced yesterday in Toledo Municipal Court.

Osaigbovo Oshodin, 45, was sentenced to 90 days in jail with 30 of the days to be served at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, Stryker, beginning May 23 and the other 60 days to be suspended. In March, he pleaded no contest and was found guilty on one count of animal cruelty.

Judge Mary Grace Trimboli suspended the 60 days pending good behavior and him not owning, possessing, or caring for an animal during his five-year probation period. She ordered him to pay $750 in costs.

His brother, Osahon Oshodin, 22, was sentenced to 60 days in jail, with 10 of the days to be served under electronic monitoring, a form of house arrest, and the other 50 days to be suspended. In March, he pleaded no contest and was found guilty on one count of attempted animal cruelty.

Judge Trimboli suspended the 50 days pending good behavior and him not owning, possessing, or caring for an animal during his two-year probation period. She ordered him to serve 40 hours of community service and to pay court costs by May 23.

“Generally, I'm satisfied,” Neil Light, Osahon Oshodin's attorney, said of his client's sentence, which he called “fairly reasonable.”

Stevin Groth, who represented Osaigbovo Oshodin, said his client didn't deserve jail time and that they will look at their legal options, including an appeal.

“We're disappointed. There were other options available. [The act] was a clearly held religious belief,” he said.

Jed Mignano, a cruelty investigator with the Toledo Humane Society, said he is satisfied with the sentences. He said they will send a strong message that this type of behavior won't be tolerated.

“This was a senseless act of brutality to a companion animal,” he said.

Neither of the brothers, who are from Nigeria, commented during or after the sentencing on the misdemeanor offenses.

They were accused of using an 18-inch machete to cut the throat of a Rottweiler mix breed July 30 during a ritual act required by Edo, a West African religion. A 12-year-old relative was at the West Toledo residence when the killing occurred.

Mr. Light said Osahon Oshodin didn't participate in the sacrifice, but came to his brother's house after it occurred and helped his brother clean up.

Mr. Light said his client, who wants to become a student at the University of Toledo, is a Christian and does not practice the Edo religion.

Mr. Groth said Osaigbovo Oshodin, who has been a U.S. citizen for about 15 years, practices the Edo religion.

“This incident stems from his closely held religious beliefs. [His] robes are not a costume that he pulls out of the closet to impress the court. In his country, his actions were acceptable,” Mr. Groth told the judge.

Ohio law prohibits killing domestic animals by any method that does not immediately and painlessly render the animal initially unconscious and subsequently dead. It allows for certain rituals to be used in slaughtering livestock, but does not mention religious sacrifice of domestic animals.

In March, Judge Trimboli granted a motion filed by prosecutors that argued, essentially, that religion wasn't a defense in the case.

“This was an act of terror on an animal that shouldn't be tolerated,” Judge Trimboli said during Osaigbovo Oshodin's sentencing. “I'm issuing my sentence today on the violent act.

“My sentence is going to the heart of what happened and to what he pleaded to on March 12,” the judge said.



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