A District Court judge has dismissed animal cruelty charges against a 26-year-old Columbia man who pulled the head off a goose at Lake Kittamaqundi in July.
Jose Alberto Menjibar, who speaks no English, listened Friday as a court interpreter told him in Spanish that he would not be prosecuted for killing the goose.
Judge Louis A. Becker placed the case against Menjibar on the inactive docket for one year. At the end of that period the charges against Menjibar will be permanently dropped if he obeys all laws.
Cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000and 90 days in jail.
Debra Michael, Menjibar's public defender, said he told police he killed the goose because he was hungry and planned to cook it. She explained that Menjibar, an immigrant from South America, was homeless at the time and had no idea that his actions were considered criminal.
"Wringing the neck of poultry in his country is considered the quickest and most efficient way of slaughtering fowl," Michael said. "He did not perceive himself to be cruel."
Menjibar was arrested July 27 after two people in a canoe at Lake Kittamaqundi and a passer-by saw him struggling with a goose in a grassy area along the lake.
Summoned by one of the witnesses, a nearby police officer approached Menjibar, whose clothes were spattered with blood and feathers. A goose, which was lying on the embankment, had been decapitated, police said.
Unable to make bail, Menjibar spent 14days in jail after his arrest.
Assistant state's attorney Tracy Gilmore said prosecuting Menjibar would have meant a lengthy trial because an interpreter would have been required to translate for him.
"When it comes right down to it, he served 14 days in jail," Gilmoresaid. "He has no criminal record and I think after 14 days in jail he learned his lesson. I don't think he got off."