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Fort Wayne man sentenced in animal cruelty, additional case

Friday, July 18, 2014 - 8:51 am

A Fort Wayne man was sentenced Thursday to a combined total of six years in jail on charges that include those filed for an incident where he allegedly stomped a pet bunny to death and then smashed a fish tank and tried to stomp on the fish.

Austin J. Witek, 26, of the 1300 block of High Street, pleaded guilty June 23 in Allen Superior Court to charges of domestic violence-animal cruelty and being a habitual offender for the incident Feb. 28 at his home. In return, the prosecution agreed to dismiss additional charges of animal cruelty and interference with the reporting of a crime.

At the same hearing Thursday, Witek also was sentenced in a separate case after pleading guilty to two counts of failing to register as a sexual or violent offender. The charges allegedly stem from him not registering his address with the Allen County Sheriff's Department between March 3 and March 17 of this year.

He had been convicted of child molesting in January 2007 and of failing to register as a sexual offender in January 2009, both in Whitley Circuit Court.

On the failure to register charges, Judge Wendy Davis sentenced Witek to 5 years in prison, with two years suspended, and two years of probation. In the other case, he received 1 1/2 years each for domestic violence-animal cruelty and being a habitual offender. He also must pay restitution of $167.45 to Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control, which saved some of the fish.

Davis ordered the three sentences to be served one after the other, for a total of six years.

In the animal cruelty case, a woman who identified herself to Fort Wayne Police as Witek's fiancée said she had returned home after being in the hospital for several days, police said. She said she had confronted Witek about why their home looked messy, and he allegedly became angry.

She suggested she leave for a few days with the three children in the home, two of which are their children, and leave him there with the animals, police said.

While in front of the children, Witek allegedly stomped a child's pet rabbit to death and threw the body outside, police said. He then allegedly used a liquor bottle to smash the fish tank and reportedly tried to stomp on the fish.