| Crime |

Joseph Nelson, who allegedly cut out dog's organs, eyeball: Plea-deal do-over

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

It's not often that a judge tells prosecutors that a plea deal is too generous and they need to start over.

But that's what happened in the case of eighteen-year-old Joseph Nelson. And given the horrific acts of mutilation Nelson is said to have committed against his mother's dog, this reaction is understandable.

The details are synopsized on the Stop Animal Abuse blogspot, which draws from coverage by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and 7News, among others.

Last August in Grand Junction, according to an arrest affidavit in the case, Nelson became angry and began striking DeMayo, a twenty-pound mixed-breed dog belonging to his mom. A witness told police Nelson began swinging DeMayo from his leash before smacking the dog's head on the ground and kicking him over and over again.

The witness said that when he tried to stop these assaults, Nelson attacked him. He eventually split, after reportedly seeing Nelson dragging DeMayo near his house.

The dog was later found hanging from a pedestrian bridge spanning a stretch of the Colorado River. Police say his internal organs and one eyeball were missing from his corpse.

Nelson, described by his mother as a meth user, was arrested in November, and in April, he pleaded guilty to aggravated cruelty to animals in a deal that called for probation -- a prospect that shocked Hands 4 Paws, a pet advocacy organization. The group started a Change.org petition addressed to District Judge Richard T. Gurley requesting "no probation, maximum sentence."

The petition had a goal of 5,000 signatures, and it easily exceeded that number. At the time the petition closed, 5,835 people had added their names. Here are some examples of comments left on the page:

If you don't do something about this mental monster now,rest assured he will do something horrific to a woman/child or other human being, Stop him NOW!!

I am a teacher. Hate begets hate. Soon enough he will do this to a human.... sad but true...

This is CLEARLY a sign of someone who is a sociopath.

In the end, Judge Gurley agreed, telling prosecutors to come up with an agreement that gave him more options. And now, the Mesa County District Attorney's Office has done so. The result of Nelson's latest guilty plea is likely to be jail time, not probation, when he's sentenced next month.

Here's a larger look at Nelson's mug shot.

More from our News archive: "Anthony Ortolani wants dog he left on a mountain to go to one of her rescuers."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.