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Published: Friday, 3/14/2003

2 brothers convicted in dog's killing


Two Toledo brothers accused of slitting a dog's throat with a machete last year in what they claimed was a religious ritual pleaded no contest and were found guilty a day before a jury trial in the case was set to begin.

Osaigbovo Oshodin, 45, pleaded no contest to one count of animal cruelty. His brother, Osahon Oshodin, 21, entered a no contest plea to one count of attempted animal cruelty.

Toledo Municipal Court Judge Mary Grace Trimboli found them guilty of the misdemeanors and sent their cases to the probation department for pre-sentence investigations. Their next hearings are scheduled for April 28.

The Oshodins, both from Nigeria, entered their pleas during a pretrial hearing Wednesday. A jury trial in the case was set to begin yesterday.

The brothers had claimed that slaughtering the Rottweiler mix breed was a ritual act required by Edo, the West African religion they practice. They were accused of using an 18-inch machete to cut the dog's throat July 30.

This week, the judge granted a motion filed by prosecutors that argued, essentially, that religion was not a defense in the case, Stephen Steinberg, an assistant city prosecutor, said.

Stevin Groth, Osaigbovo Oshodin's attorney, said his client was left with no defense after the ruling. He said he and his client will consider “all options,” which could include an appeal, at the time of sentencing.

“My client just hopes to put this behind him,” Mr. Groth said.

Neil Light, Osahon Oshodin's attorney, declined comment because the case is pending.

Jeff Holland, a special prosecutor appointed by the Toledo Humane Society, said the case was sealed with the ruling on the motion. He said it “indicated there is no religious defense for killing a dog in a ritual in Ohio.”

“We support diversity of thought and culture, but certain issues the government has an interest in protecting, including animal cruelty,” he said.

State law prohibits killing domestic animals by any method that does not immediately and painlessly render the animal initially unconscious and subsequently dead.

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