A 19-year-old Riverside man who tortured a Chihuahua puppy in his apartment, inflicting ultimately fatal wounds depicted in a video he posted online, pleaded guilty Thursday in a Los Angeles courtroom to a federal animal abuse charge.
Angel Ramos Corrales admitted one count of animal crushing, which refers to intentionally subjecting certain creatures to violent abuse that results in grave injuries.
A plea bargain with the U.S. Attorney’s Office was announced last month and as a result, Corrales formally changed his plea to guilty during a hearing before U.S. District Judge John F. Walter at the federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
Walter scheduled a sentencing hearing for Aug. 16. Corrales faces a maximum seven years in federal prison, according to prosecutors.
The puppy was assaulted on Feb. 13 in the 3500 block of Lou Ella Lane, in Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood, north of the UC Riverside campus, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The case was initially handled by the Riverside Police Department, Riverside County Department of Animal Services and Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, but led to federal involvement, evidently because Corrales transmitted video footage of his alleged acts via the online social media platform Snapchat.
According to prosecutors, Corrales videotaped himself brutalizing the 4-month-old puppy named Canelo.
In the video, he states, “I’m cold-hearted,” showing the dog with a large gaping slash wound to his neck, then kicks the canine, according to court papers.
The video prompted multiple complaints to Riverside police, who quickly identified Corrales and went to his residence the same day.
“(Officers) found him with fresh blood stains on his clothes, as well as freshly cut wounds on his hand,” according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office statement. “Inside the residence, officers found the severely injured dog lying on a bed and observed blood spatters in both the bathroom and bedroom.”
Animal control officers were contacted and soon arrived at the location. The law enforcement personnel spoke to Corrales’ roommate, who said he “locked himself in his bedroom after observing blood spatter and the dog wrapped in a rug, while Corrales was in his room, yelling,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The puppy was taken to the Western Riverside County Animal Shelter in Jurupa Valley, where veterinary staff determined that, because of the many broken bones in his skull and chest, he could not be saved, at which point he was euthanized, according to investigators.
Corrales was booked into the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside on suspicion of animal cruelty, then was released on his own recognizance hours later with a criminal citation, as part of the county’s ongoing coronavirus emergency bail schedule adopted under state guidelines to limit exposure risks in lockups.
He was re-arrested and placed in federal custody on April 26. He posted a $15,000 bond and was released the following day.
According to prosecutors, Corrales later told investigators that he had purchased Canelo via a Craigslist posting toward the end of 2020, but said he did not recall the events of Feb. 13.
Corrales has no documented prior felony convictions in Riverside County.