Rock Falls man who locked his dog in the basement to die, found guilty for animal cruelty

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A Rock Falls man was found guilty by a bench trial for aggravated animal cruelty on Tuesday, November 25, 2014.

Joseph Nelson was arrested on March 28, 2014, after a joint investigation between the Rock Falls Police Department and Whiteside County Animal Control.  He was charged with aggravated cruelty to an animal, and has remained in jail since his arrest.

Police say Nelson moved from his house, but left his dog in a cage in the basement with no food or water. Several days after he had moved, two men were hired to clean the house Nelson had been living in. One of then men found the dog dead in it's cage.

Whiteside County Animal Control had been told by Nelson's ex-wife that he left the dog at the home, but animal control officials say they searched the outside of the home, and didn't find any signs of a dog.

Whiteside County State's Attorney Trish Joyce told News 8 that Nelson could face one to six years in prison because of his prior convictions of driving while revoked and obstruction of justice.

She said during his trial, Nelson was emotional.

"Mr. Nelson was emotional during his trial, gut that doesn't obviate the fact that this animal, for lack of a better term, starved to death," Joyce said.

Joyce added that when police were called to Nelson's home,  the dog was about half it's normal weight and it's claws were overgrown, a sign of neglect.

"It's difficult from our point of view because we can't wrap our heads around treating an animal in such an inhumane fashion," Joyce said.

Nelson's sentencing is scheduled for January 13, 2015.

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