FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- UPDATE 10/11/19 @ 2:21 p.m.
The sentencing for a man who pleaded guilty to one felony count of animal abuse has been rescheduled for November.
Justin Lancianese, Courtesy: WVRJA
The sentencing hearing for Justin Lancianese was originally set for October 2, but a judge granted a postponement at the request of the defense team.
Lawyers asked Judge Patrick Wilson to reschedule the hearing to allow for the testimony from a doctor who performed a psychological and substance abuse evaluation on Lancianese. The doctor was unable to attend the October hearing.
The Marion County Prosecuting Attorney's office said the sentencing has been rescheduled for November 1 at 1:30 p.m.
Several local residents, including staff members from the Marion County Humane Society, attended the initial sentencing hearing last week. They are also expected to attend November's sentencing.
Lancianese pleaded guilty in July to one felony count of cruelty to animals. That animal became known as Winston the Yorkie to the Marion County community. The humane society took donations from the community to help nurse him back to full health and find a new family.
UPDATE 10/02/19 @ 2:21 p.m.
The sentencing hearing for a man who admitted to one felony count of animal abuse in Marion County has been postponed.
Justin Lancianese was in court Wednesday afternoon for his scheduled sentencing hearing.
His defense team asked the judge to hear the testimony of Dr. Edward Baker who conducted a psychological and substance abuse evaluation on Lancianese. That doctor could not appear in court on Wednesday.
Judge Patrick Wilson offered a continuance to a later date when the doctor can testify, though he said he was not happy and the motion put him in difficult spot.
Prosecutors are pursuing incarceration while the defense is asking for probation.
Sentencing guidelines call for one to five years for the felony animal abuse charge.
"Throw the book at him. He deserves it," said Lesia Cerisano, who was among the more than a dozen people from the community who attended the hearing. "If he did that to a dog, what would he do to a child?"
Lancianese pleaded guilty in July to one felony count of cruelty to animals. That animal became known as Winston the Yorkie to the Marion County community.
The Humane Society took Winston under its wing and raise funds to rehab the dog. He was found blind, beaten and abandoned in a lunch box on the side of a road.
"My staff picked him up out of the bag covered with feces, urine, blind and confused," said Marion County Humane Society Shelter Director Jonna Spatafore. "He was flee-ridden and had sores. We took care of him."
Wednesday was the first time employees saw Lancianese in person.
"The first time I saw him, I was so angry that I had to struggle to sit there and not say anything," Spatafore said.
The shelter closed for the afternoon so the employees could attend the hearing. Employees with the shelter weren’t happy with the judge’s decision but said they will keep showing up until Lancianese is sentenced.
"We're going to be here every time he's here until we find out what's going on," Spatafore said.
A new sentencing date hasn’t been set. Marion County Assistant Prosecutor Dennis Kittle said initial suggestions for a later date included October 25 and November 1, but that could change depending on the judge's schedule.
"I would like to see one [year in jail]," Spatafore said. "We never see it. Honestly, I doubt we're going to see it in that courtroom for this guy. It is so hard to get any jail time."
The man accused of abusing a Yorkie in Marion County pleaded guilty in Circuit Court Monday.
Justin Lancianese of Rivesville admitted to one felony count of cruelty to animals, according to the Marion County Prosecuting Attorney's office.
Lancianese is facing 1-5 years in a state correctional facility, prosecutors said.
His sentencing is set for Sept. 5.
Lancianese was arrested in September 2018 and accused of abusing a small, blind Yorkie. The pup, now named Winston, was found abandoned on the side of the road in a lunch bag weighed down by a large book.
He has since found a new home and is doing well after he underwent surgery to restore part of his vision and a rehab effort by the Marion County Humane Society.
Winston made his long-anticipated road trip to Pittsburgh on Monday for his first catarac surgery.
After receiving thousands of dollars in donations, the Marion County Humane society was able to take the now-famous Yorkie to PVSEC, a pet hospital in Pittsburgh, for a surgery to get part of his vision back.
The humane society said that because of damage to his retinas, surgeons couldn't place lenses in either of his eyes, meaning he will be little far-sighted. But - he does have part of his vision back.
Winston was found blind and hopesly abandoned on the side of the road on July 31. He was taken to the Marion County Humane Society where he has been making a strong recovery since. Photos of him went viral on social media, as donations poured in to help support his medical costs.
According to the Marion County Prosecutor's Office, a man has been charged with felony animal cruelty in the abandonment of Winston.
Winston, a blind Yorkie who has stolen the hearts of his community, was found on July 31 abandoned on the side of the road. He was trapped inside a sealed lunch bag and weighed down by a large book.
Officials say Justin Lancianese was originally charged with a misdemeanor for animal cruelty, but is now charged with a felony.
ORIGINAL STORY 8/27/18
Winston is a nine-year-old Yorkie that has captured the hearts and attention of the Marion County community.
He has turned into a social media star of sorts over the last few weeks.
But Winston, by all definitions, is a living miracle.
He was found on July 31 abandoned on the side of the road. He was trapped inside a sealed lunch bag and weighed down by a large book. Plus, he's completely blind.
A man found Winston and brought him to the Marion County Humane Society.
"We felt really bad for Winston," Frankie Spatafore with the Marion County Humane Society. "He was matted, he was completely blind, so that made the situation more upsetting to us. Knowing what he had been through, we wanted to do anything we could to make him as comfortable as possible initially."
The United States Humane Society stepped in and offered a reward for information that would help the investigation.
The next day, 35-year-old Justin Lancianese of Rivesville was arrested and charged with animal cruelty.
"The public is very angry at this situation," Spatafore said. "Because a lot of people are upset about it and the response we've gotten, hopefully, we can get something done. But I don't think it won't be enough."
Today, Winston is doing well. He's eating healthy and gaining weight, his liver has improved, and his blood work has been positive. Spatafore said the community has donated nearly $3,000 to help with his recovery.
That amount will cover cataract surgery in one eye to give him part of his vision back. The Humane Society plans to take Winston to Pittsburgh for the procedure and eventually repair both eyes.
After he recovers fully, the Humane Society will put Winston up for adoption. Spatafore said they will need to find someone who is willing and capable of raising Winston and can provide him the attention he needs.
Photos of Winston on the Humane Society's Facebook page have received hundreds of shares. People have sent in donations to help cover his medical costs and bought #JusticeForWinston shirts to support the dog.
Robin Smith at Signs N More in Mannington is donating all of the shirts to the Marion County Humane Society, so all proceeds will go straight toward Winston's recovery. Shirts are $15 and can be purchased at the Humane Society. They can mail shirts for an additional $7.
"We have received so much support from the community," Spatafore said. "We were really surprised and really blown away by how much people love him."
For now, the refreshed pup is enjoying his practically new life. After all, who said cats are the only ones who can have nine lives.