Man receives three years in dogfighting incident
July 23, 2003
Brooke W. Stanley
Staff Writer

A 22-year-old Montgomery Village man was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison after pleading guilty in March to felony dogfighting charges.

Circuit Court Judge D. Warren Donohue sentenced Ronald Roy Grant, who also pleaded guilty in March to a conspiracy charge relating to the same January 2002 dogfighting incident, to six years with all but three suspended.

Assistant State's Attorney Alex Foster sought the maximum penalty in the case, which is believed to be the first in the state to be prosecuted under the new felony dogfighting statute, according to a release from the State's Attorney's Office.

Grant was also ordered to undergo psychological counseling and to avoid all contact with dogs for the length of his three-year probation after he is released, Foster said Monday.

Maryland was one of the last states to elevate animal cruelty to a felony. The law, which went into effect in October 2001, gives law enforcement a greater chance to intervene and prevent violent behavior against animals.

In September, police found two dead pit bulls and another severely dehydrated and malnourished pit bull in an abandoned apartment in the Kentlands neighborhood in Gaithersburg. Police also found videotape in the apartment that shows Grant and another suspect forcing dogs to fight.

Grant pleaded guilty on March 20 to using a dog in a dogfight and to conspiracy to use a dog in a dogfight.

He was originally supposed to be sentenced June 27, but that was delayed when he fired Rockville attorney David Merkin, who was acting as a public defender in the case. Rockville attorney John T. Bell took over and requested a hearing to withdraw Grant's guilty plea, arguing that Grant was mentally incompetent and did not understand what he was doing when he entered the plea.

Donohue denied Grant's request on July 9, saying there was "no good reason" to allow him to withdraw his plea.

Grant's cousin, 19-year-old Norman Patrick Blassingame Jr., of the 16100 block of Crabbs Branch Way in Rockville, pleaded guilty on July 14 to two misdemeanor charges related to the same incident and faces up to three years and/or a $5,000 fine and may be ordered to undergo psychological counseling. He will be sentenced Oct. 6.