South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported, citing records, that 19-year-old Jephthe Jean Francois was arrested on 15 charges, including grand theft auto and causing suffering and death to an animal.
The illegal immigrant from Sunrise, Florida, declined to have a public defender and appeared in court on Thursday representing himself.
“He stole the vehicle, he discarded the vehicle, leaving this dog stranded to its own devices locked in the car,” prosecutor Eric Linder said in court Thursday, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
“When the car was later found, the dog was found unfortunately deceased, and what I can only imagine greatly suffered.”
The theft is alleged to have occurred on Oct. 3 when Francois stole a 2005 Volvo from a parking spot in Oakland Park, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
The owner of the Volvo, Wanda Ferrari, had left the car with air conditioning turned on because Zorra was sitting in the back seat.
Zorra used a pink wheelchair to get around because his back legs were paralyzed.
Ferrari earlier told news station KSAT that as a cancer survivor, she recently found that her breast cancer had returned and Zorra’s disappearance was causing her stress. Zorra had been her pet for 13 years.
The car, along with Ferrari’s disabled 2-month-old Husky mix, vanished after 10 minutes.
Four days later, the car was located by a towing company that found it illegally parked at a location in Sunrise, the paper reported.
The towing company alerted the sheriff’s office after finding Zorra dead in the back seat.
Officers of the Wilton Manors Police Department arrested Francois on Wednesday on charges of multiple home burglaries. Francois was in a different stolen car at the time, a Chrysler.
Police said Francois was involved in three separate burglaries on Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Robyn Hankerson, a spokeswoman for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, said that after searching through the Chrysler, police deduced that the key to Ferrari’s Volvo was one of the items in the car, Fox News reported.