BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — When police confronted Orlando Vela, he was pushing a shopping cart containing a dog that had been stabbed and set on fire, according to prosecutors.
Vela produced a dagger and fought with officers before being taken into custody, according to a District Attorney’s office release. An examination of the dog revealed it had been alive when set ablaze.
A jury on Thursday convicted Vela, 37, of arson, animal cruelty and brandishing a deadly weapon at police. He faces up to 31 years in prison.
“Dogs will often lay down their lives for their owners, and for a man to return that loyalty by stabbing his dog to death and lighting it on fire displays a level of cruelty seldom seen, and which absolutely will not go unpunished,” District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said in the release.
On the morning of May 6, 2020, police approached Vela near the intersection of Union and California avenues. He was “aggressive, combative, yelling” and refused to listen to officers as he drew a 12-inch dagger and walked into traffic lanes, the release says.
More police arrived and Vela swung at them but was taken to the ground, where he continued to resist, attempting to bite officers, according to the release. He was restrained and placed in handcuffs.
Vela, who also goes by “Killa” and “Drastic,” has prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a gun by a felon, gang participation and drug possession, according to court records.
Sentencing is set for July 29.