Utica man arraigned in dog's fatal stabbing

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Sterling the dog.

Mount Clemens — Macomb County's prosecutor has authorized charges against a Shelby Township man in connection with the stabbing of his own dog, officials said.

Prosecutor Eric Smith had he is charging Alexander Gerth with a count of killing and torturing an animal, a four-year felony.

Gerth was arraigned Thursday afternoon, officials said. A judge set his bond at $25,000 bond. 

According to authorities, Gerth stabbed and killed his dog, Sterling, a 2-year-old pit bull mix. The dog's body was found Jan. 24 underneath a picnic table in Grant Park in Utica with multiple stab wounds. Grant Park is located near Van Dyke and Hall Road.

A trail of blood from the dog was left from the picnic table to a trash can nearby, officials said.

File: Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith (left) said Jan 31, 2019 he will charge a Shelby Township man with a count of killing and torturing an animal.

“The inhumane treatment of Sterling by this defendant is unconscionable,” Smith said in a statement. “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.”

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

Officials with the prosecutor's office said the friend is not facing charges at this time and is expected to be a witness in the case against Gerth. 

"The friend is part of our case against Gerth so that we can prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law," said Derek Miller, the office's chief of operations.

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

“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.”

The Michigan Humane Society said Sterling was adopted on December 29. Prior to Gerth's arrest, a $3,500 reward was offered for information into the death. An anonymous donor offered to double that, the agency said via Facebook.  

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez