Arlington man tortures puppy on video, sentenced to 5 years
A man who savagely tortured an 11-week-old German Shepherd was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday.
Deric Berquist was seen on video beating, punching, choking, and slamming the puppy’s small body to the ground. Neighbors heard the puppy, named Nikki, squeal in pain until she finally lost consciousness, Tarrant County prosecutors said.
“The kind of man that can prey on small animals is a different kind of evil,” said prosecutor David Alex. “The level of torture shown in this video is the kind of thing people don’t want to believe really happens.”
Berquist was charged with animal cruelty by torture. The usual range of punishment for this offense, 180 days to two years in state jail, was enhanced due to the level of torture involved, giving the jury the option of sentencing Berquist to five years in prison.
Nikki had several broken bones, but she survived, according to Sam Jordan, communications officer with the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office. “She is back in good health and very happy in her new home.”
The puppy belonged to Berquist, and his then-live-in girlfriend told police what he was doing. Berquist told investigators he attacked the puppy because she had defecated in her kennel.
During the trial’s punishment phase, witnesses, including members of Berquist’s family, testified about stories of his past animal abuse.
Witnesses told the jury Berquist strangled and lit a squirrel on fire as a child. Testimony was also given that Berquist had often been violent with former girlfriends.
Prosecutors used footage from the same home security system Berquist installed to show jurors his torture of the puppy. Footage from the home video security system also showed Berquist hitting his then-girlfriend.
In his closing arguments, Alex asked the jury to consider more than just Berquist’s punishment, and said they should also think about the protection of our community. “How long do you want your county safe from this kind of evil?”
“What kind of human does this?” added Danielle Bonanno, Tarrant County prosecutor, in her closing argument to the jury. “Monsters are real, and he is sitting right there.”