ARCADIA, Fla - A doctor will determine whether the Arcadia man accused of setting his dog "Hope" on fire, is competent enough to stand trial. Now, people from across the country are asking a Desoto County judge for the maximum sentence against him.
Almost three months since "Hope" was purposely set on fire, the pup mingled with fans at a Naples Petsmart this weekend.
Hope was there to support some of the other dogs during an adoption event. But it's the nation who has hope's back.
Hope's owner, Larry Wallace, is charged with animal cruelty, and arson. He still awaits trial.
In the meantime, at least half a dozen people, are writing to the court, on Hope's behalf, those letters coming in from all over the country into the Desoto County clerk's office.
Kimberlee Hamilton of Connecticut says, "I would like to strongly urge the severest punishment available by law for these infractions, I hope he will be off the streets, frankly, forever."
And Kim Fightcop begs: "It is time our nation begins to treat animal cruelty cases as the serious crimes they are. An online petition even urges the judge to strike down plea deals."
So, WINK News asked criminal defense lawyer Scott Moorey, who is not involved in the case, whether these letters could affect Wallace's trial.
"It will effectively be a victim impact statement on Hope's behalf," said Scott Moorey.
Moorey says letters like these wouldn't be involved in a trial, because they are not evidence. But if Wallace is convicted, or takes a plea and has to be sentenced.
"That kind of support, I believe will be taken into consideration by the court," said Moorey.
Moorey says the biggest problem could be finding a venue for the trial. He says jury selection could be difficult in a high profile story like this. The next court date for Wallace's case has not yet been set.