Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT – The long-running animal cruelty case involving Charles Wesley Cole is over – for now, and as long as he behaves.
According to a press release from the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office, Cole, 59, of Arcata pled guilty to a charge of vandalizing the Arcata Co-op on Nov. 6, 2015. Terms of his sentence include three years probation, and he has to stay away from the Arcata Co-op as well as the clerk he'd thrown coffee at before vandalizing a Co-op van. Cole must also comply with all conditions of the mental health counseling he is receiving.
Key to the plea deal are two demands made by local animal welfare activists: Cole may no longer possess any animals and cannot seek return of the dog, Mr. Know Buddy, he was charged with abusing. The black Lab has been renamed Jackpot and re-homed in the Bay Area.
Continues the DA's Office press release, "the last sentencing terms above relate to an animal abuse charge that originated from Mr. Cole's actions on Jan. 14, 2016 in Arcata; this charge was dismissed today. In a trial on the animal abuse charge in July 2016, the jury split 7 to 5. Subsequently, several citizens contacted the District Attorney’s Office to provide additional information about the incident and the People set the case for a new trial. Before the date of the new trial, Mr. Cole's defense attorney declared a doubt as to Mr. Cole's mental competency and in July 2017 he was transported to Napa State Hospital for treatment, where he remained until June 2018. (Today Mr. Cole waived custody credits for his hospitalization in Napa, so if he violates probation he can be required to serve up to 180 days in jail.)"
District Attorney Maggie Fleming said that the terms and conditions which could have applied to the dismissed charges were affixed to the vandalism charge to which he did plead guilty. Cole waived six months of his time served during treatment at Napa State Hospital. If he violates probation, the DA could jail him again to serve out that much time.
"It's not that we want to incarcerate people with mental health issues," Fleming said. "We have to be able to say to them, 'don't blow it'." She said her office will monitor Cole's compliance with terms of the deal, including his regular attendance at the mental health counseling.
"I think it's a good resolution," Fleming said.
Concluded the press release, "The District Attorney’s Office appreciates the citizens who came forward to provide information on Mr. Cole's actions. Before taking the plea today the D.A.'s Office contacted many of those people, who all agreed that in conjunction with his course of mental health treatment, this plea addresses Mr. Cole's behavior."