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Wilkinsburg man who electrocuted dogs sentenced to up to 6.5 years in prison

| Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 4:24 p.m.

A Wilkinsburg man who operated a dog fighting ring from his mother's house and electrocuted dogs that wouldn't fight will spend up to 6½ years in prison, an Allegheny County judge ordered on Wednesday.

Common Pleas Judge Thomas E. Flaherty also sentenced Darryl Bryant, 49, to 11 years of probation — during which he may not own or possess any animals — and to pay an undetermined amount of restitution. A jury in April found Bryant guilty of two counts of animal fighting and one count of possessing an instrument of crime.

“I see dog fighting as also a crime that has reverberations on society and beyond,” Flaherty said. “Those dogs to the very end put their care and trust and confidence in Mr. Bryant, and he let them down.”

Authorities raiding Bryant's home on Bessica Street on Feb. 24, 2012, found 13 pit bull-terrier mixes between 5 months and 5 years old locked in cages. They discovered spatters of dried dog blood on basement walls; equipment used to condition dogs for fighting, including a treadmill and bite sticks; and medical supplies for treating injuries. In medical examinations, a veterinarian identified dozens of scars on the dogs that she determined were not consistent with normal play.

Daisy Balawejder, a coordinator for the Humane Society's Dog Fighting Rescue Coalition, said two of the dogs have been placed with families, but the 11 remaining dogs had to be euthanized.

Bryant declined to speak at his sentencing. Bryant's sister Marva Bryant left the courtroom immediately after Flaherty announced her brother's sentence. She declined to comment afterward. Bryant's defense attorney, Samir Sarna, had asked Flaherty for no more than a year in jail.

Assistant District Attorney Rachel Fleming asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence of up to 19 years. Bryant could serve as few as 39 months of the sentence.

Flaherty said he believed the sentence would send a message to deter others from dog fighting.

“Even though they're not human beings, I believe it was cruel,” the judge said of Bryant's treatment of the dogs.

Pittsburgh police Officer Christine Luffey, the lead investigator on the case, said she thought Flaherty's sentence was fair.

“I sleep better at night knowing that the dogs in Pittsburgh are much safer with Darryl Bryant behind bars where he belongs,” Luffey said.

About 10 people showed up outside Flaherty's courtroom with placards condemning dog fighting.

“We don't want to see this in anyone's neighborhood,” said Kim Marasco, whose sign pictured a severely beaten pit bull that read: “If you don't report it, you support it.”

Bryant will receive credit for spending 81 days in the Allegheny County Jail. Flaherty revoked his bond for reportedly threatening a juror at a Downtown McDonald's during his trial.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.

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