“Young man, you can cry all you want, but what you did to that poor dog is absolutely unacceptable,” Judge David Winter said. “Because we understand the link between animal abuse and criminal violence, this court takes these matters very seriously.”

The mood in the courtroom that morning was tense. A spectator sitting on the back row told a local reporter “you could feel the anxiety in the room.”

Local Illinois residents, media figures, and officers of the court all sat perched on the edges of their seats. A seventeen-year-old, looking glum behind the defendant’s table, would learn his fate today. After weeks of heated courtroom dramatics, the jury had finally reached a verdict in the animal cruelty case that had caused an uproar in this small town.

When Thor, a small mixed breed puppy, was found with his throat slit, local veterinarian Karen Philippi didn’t think he would make it.

“Thor was in pretty bad shape when he came in. He had lost a lot of blood,” she said. “But because the cuts to Thor’s throat were so clean, we knew that they had been made by a knife or other sharp implement. It wasn’t an accident.”

Police arrested Damien Ingram and charged him with multiple counts of abusing his pet dog and then leaving him to die.

But would the jury find this boy, tried as an adult, guilty?