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Mount Clemens — A Utica man has pleaded no contest to killing or torturing an animal in the January stabbing of his own dog, officials said Monday.

Alexander Gerth, 23, made the plea in Macomb County Circuit Court, county Prosecutor Eric Smith said. A no contest plea is treated the same as a guilty plea under the law.

Smith said Gerth is scheduled to be sentenced April 23. The crime is a felony and he faces up to four years in prison. 

Gerth's dog, a medium sized, 2-year-old, mixed breed brown dog named Sterling, was found Jan. 24 under a picnic table in Grant Park, near Van Dyke and Hall Road, in Utica.

A trail of blood that stretched from a trash can to the picnic table led police to the dog's body, which had multiple stab wounds. “Sterling was maliciously tortured and left to die in the elements,” Smith said in a statement.

Gerth had applied for ownership of Sterling, but was denied due to this living arrangements, according to authorities. Gerth then convinced a friend to adopt the dog and moved Sterling into his apartment at the end of December.

He admitted to police that he hit and punched Sterling on numerous occasions, officials said. He told investigators he used physical abuse as a means of discipline.

Gerth was arraigned on the charge Jan. 31 and a judge set his bond at $25,000.

Earlier this month, Gerth was charged in St. Clair Shores with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, according to the Macomb County Sheriff's Office. 

cramirez@detroitnews.com
Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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