XENIA — For the first time, a man was sentenced in Greene County Common Pleas Court July 27 under Goddard’s Law, a two-year-old law in Ohio.
The law enables prosecutors to bump up a causing serious physical harm to a companion animal charge to a fifth-degree felony.
Matthew Bolen, 24 of Dayton, will spend 12 months in prison for abusing a puppy named Willow in Xenia last summer. A Xenia victim advocate, Leah Lind, adopted the dog.
Bolen pleaded guilty to the offense in January.
“Throughout this, this dog has had a lot of support, and deservingly so. People are here today, lots of people,” Bolen’s attorney, Gardner Combs, said to Judge Stephen Wolaver. “But we’re talking about a human being here, too. Mr. Bolen has been fighting an opioid addiction for a long time.”
Bolen missed his sentencing dates in April and June; a warrant was issued and he was arrested in July.
“It wasn’t because of some crazy motive,” Combs said of Bolen not cooperating. “It’s because he’s an addict … I know the dog deserves compassion and the dog certainly deserves justice, but Mr. Bolen is a human being and I’m just asking the court to please remember and do your best to give him some mercy and some understanding too because he’s suffering, he really is.”
Lind, the dog, and more than a dozen “Justice for Willow” supporters sat behind Bolen as he addressed the court. The puppy has garnered widespread support from the community since the crime occurred.
“I just apologize for the crime itself and wasting your time,” Bolen said. “I just ask for mercy and maybe a Vivitrol shot, something to get help. I’m tired of getting high, I’m tired of wasting my life and causing chaos everywhere I go.”
Wolaver explained he didn’t think Bolen would be a “good fit” for community control.
“Not only did you skip bond once, you skipped bond twice. That’s pretty much unprecedented in this court,” he said.
Wolaver said Bolen is forbidden to have contact with, owning or caring for any companion animals indefinitely. He also must pay restitution of more than $5,000.
Combs declined to comment, but said he was sad about the case.
Lind said she felt good about the maximum sentence.
“I think that we needed to set a precedence in this county, this being a new Goddard’s Law case. And we did it,” she said.
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498 or follow @annadbolton on Facebook.