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Man tortures, kills adopted dog, leaves body under picnic table at Utica park, police say

Alexander Gerth charged with killing pit bull mix

Alexander Gerth (WDIV)
Alexander Gerth (WDIV)

UTICA, Mich. – A Macomb County man is accused of torturing and killing an adopted pit bull mix and leaving the dog's body under a picnic table at a park, police said.

Alexander Gerth is accused of stabbing the 2-year-old dog, named Sterling, on Jan. 24 and leaving the body at Grant Park in Utica in below-freezing temperatures.

"The inhumane treatment of Sterling by this defendant is unconscionable," Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said. "My office is fully committed to prosecuting this case at the fullest extent under the law. No animal deserves to have his life ended this way."

Officials said they followed a trail of blood from a nearby waste receptacle to the picnic table. Animal cruelty investigators said it's one of the worst cases they've ever seen.

"It was tortuous," MHS cruelty investigator Elise Ramsey said. "You see a lot of things. This was one of those that sticks with you."

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Police said Gerth originally applied to adopt Sterling but was denied because of his living situation. He convinced a friend to adopt Sterling for him and moved the dog into his apartment at the end of December, according to authorities.

Gerth admitted to hitting and punching Sterling on numerous occasions as a means of discipline, police said.

He is charged with one count of killing/torturing an animal, which is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

"Rest assured that there will be no plea bargaining in the case," Smith said. "We have charged Gerth with most severe charge on the books, and we will be asking for the maximum possible sentence provided under the law. There is no doubt that there needs to be tougher laws addressing animal abuse."

You can watch Local 4's previous coverage of the story in the video below.


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