Dozens of protesters rallied outside the Sherburne County Courthouse Wednesday, calling for harsh punishment for a man who videotaped himself smiling as he tortured and killed his girlfriend's dog.
Anthony Sather, 25, accompanied by a new attorney, put in only a brief appearance in court, where the judge scheduled his next hearing for March 5. As he was led out of the courtroom, one of the onlookers in the crowded room rose to his feet.
"Sather, you bottom feeder," he called out. "There's a special place in hell for you."
Outside, the other protesters echoed the sentiment, less disruptively. Charmaine Schodde of Corcoran identified the man as her husband, Dave Schodde, a Vietnam veteran and staunch defender of helpless animals like Draco -- the little Shiba Inu/husky mix Sather recorded himself beating, kicking, slamming into a concrete floor and finally shooting at the Princeton home he shared with his girlfriend, the dog's owner.
"He feels really strongly about this," said Charmaine Schodde, who knows the family of 21-year-old Andrea Godfrey, who stumbled across videos on Sather's computer that recorded the bloody attack on Draco by Sather, who smiled at the camera and licked his lips as the dog cried out in pain and tried to escape. "We need to be outspoken about this."
Sather has been jailed on charges that he violated his probation since his arrest in early January. He faces a felony count of mistreating an animal and felony and misdemeanor drug charges.
Emily Randolph founded the Justice for Draco Facebook page and launched an online petition calling for him to receive the maximum punishment allowed by state law. To date, her online petition has more than 88,000 signatures.
"The fact that it was videotaped, I think really made a difference," said Randolph, surrounded by protesters holding "Justice for Draco" signs in Elk River Wednesday afternoon. "There's not any doubt about what he did."
In the end, the protests lasted far longer than Sather's court appearance.
"It's frustrating. We've been out here for two hours," said Rita Buechele, who came up from Brooklyn Park only to learn that Sather's day in court had been rescheduled for March. But, she said, "We need to show our support and get justice for Draco."