By Mychel Matthews
TWIN FALLS • A man accused of abusing cows at a Twin Falls County dairy was sentenced Wednesday in Twin Falls County Magistrate Court.
Javier Victor Rojas-Loayza got two years of probation and 72 hours on the sheriff's work detail.
Magistrate Judge Calvin Campbell also banned Rojas-Loayza from herding or supervising animals while he in on probation.
Prosecutors charged Rojas-Loayza with misdemeanor animal abuse after he was filmed by an undercover animal activist with Mercy for Animals.
The video showed Rojas-Loayza striking and jabbing at cows with a cane in the face and head, prosecutors said.
Rojas-Loayza originally was charged in August 2012 but said he hadn’t known about the charge or that he was supposed to show up in court. He was arrested May 2 and bonded out the same day, then pleaded guilty May 6 at the court's counter.
Deputy Prosecutor Jethelyn Harrington asked that Rojas-Loayza be sentenced to 100 days in jail with 50 suspended, two years of probation and a ban from working with animals.
Defense attorney Alan Boehme said he didn't believe jail time was appropriate.
"He realizes there may have been better ways to move the animals," Boehme said.
Rojas-Loayza told the judge he sees the error of his ways and apologized. He also criticized the lack of training he and other employees received and said if Mercy for Animals was trying to protect animals, it should have stopped the bad behavior at the dairy.
Campbell also sentenced Jesus Garza in the Dry Creek Dairy case and said Rojas-Loayza's actions were much less egregious.
"It wasn't done with sadistic intent or sadistic pleasure of cruelty to animals," he said of Rojas-Loayza's actions.
Luis Bettencourt, who recently sold Dry Creek Dairy, said he fired the employees after watching the footage of cows being beaten and dragged, filmed on his Dry Creek Dairy southwest of Murtaugh.
The video was filmed by a former employee who also works for Los Angeles-based Mercy for Animals. The animal rights advocacy nonprofit leads cruelty investigations across the nation.
Three of the five terminated employees were investigated by the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office.