Chance Christmas

Chance Christmas, a pit bull puppy, was badly abused in December 2015. He was found Christmas evening with his muzzle taped shut and two broken legs.

MICHIGAN CITY — A new plea agreement that could produce more time in prison for the severe injuries to a puppy rescued Christmas Day 2015 has been accepted by a judge.

LaPorte Superior Court Judge Greta Friedman on Friday found a 48-month cap more acceptable than the 30-month cap she rejected in late January.

Sentencing is scheduled March 10, after the defense and prosecution argue how much of the cap Richard Cope should receive and how his time should be split between prison, home detention, work release and probation.

Defense attorney Jonathan Howes would not specify the type of sentence he'll be seeking, but said it would be under the cap.

"She'll probably have her eyes set on 48, but we'll see what she does," Howes said.

Cope, 51, pleaded guilty to intimidation and torturing or mutilating an animal, both level 6 felonies, along with animal neglect or abandonment, a class A misdemeanor.

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He would be facing as much as six years if the sentences for each count were to be served consecutively.

Sherri Christopher, director of Guardians of the Green Mile, a Porter County-based animal rescue group, said the pit bull has been placed in a home outside the area and is doing fine.

It still walks with a slight limp, though, and will never regain some of its lost agility, she said.

The court is considering a defense motion to prevent the dog rescue group from speaking on behalf of the animal prior to sentencing, but Christopher said she plans on insisting that someone as an advocate for the dog gets to provide comment.

"Chance will have a voice on what he did to him," Christopher said.

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