A Lynwood man who killed an opossum that was found beaten, burned and hanging from a noose last year pleaded no contest Wednesday to an animal cruelty charge, authorities said.
Jonathan Christoph Aldama, 24, who was already a convicted felon, was immediately sentenced to 376 days in county jail and three years of probation, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Los Angeles, which investigated the case, said in a written statement. He was also ordered to attend mental health counseling and barred from possessing animals for 10 years.
Aldama had already served 188 days in jail, with credit, and was ordered released from custody, according to officials and Los Angeles County booking records. He had been held without bail since his arrest six months ago. A second count of felony animal cruelty was dismissed.
The investigation began in April of 2018, “when an opossum was found hanging from a noose by the neck on a chain-link fence adjacent to Yvonne-Burke-John D. Ham Park,” according to the SPCALA statement. “The necropsy showed that the cause of death was due to ‘severe skull trauma leading to skull fracture and severe brain hemorrhage.’ The opossum had died as the result of a violent and intentional act of animal cruelty.”
Investigators collected the rope that had been used in the crime and submitted it for DNA analysis.
“DNA evidence found on the rope resulted in a hit for Aldama,” the statement said. “Aldama, a convicted felon on probation for carrying a concealed dagger, lived less than 400 feet from where the opossum’s body was hanged.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrested Aldama on Jan. 25 while searching his home in the 11800 block of Pope Avenue, according to officials and records.
“The search uncovered noosed ropes, a variety of weapons including an axe, pocket knives, homemade bladed weapons and a 29-inch scythe,” the SPCALA statement said. “All of the weapons appeared to have been obsessively sharpened.”
“Two makeshift bedrooms in the garage that belonged to Aldama revealed a sadistic and sinister environment where ritualistic torture and killings took place,” the statement added. “Expended shell casings were discovered on the ground, as well as blood splatters and stains on the property’s garage and concrete driveway.”
The investigation found that Aldama killed the opossum found in April of 2018, “as well as two others that he killed and displayed in similar fashion,” the SPCLA said.
Investigators examined all of the blood and determined none of it was of human origin.