SANDY — The man accused of stomping on the head of his girlfriend's puppy and killing the animal has been convicted of animal cruelty in the past.

Late last week, David Stepper, 41, was charged with torture of a companion animal and threat of domestic violence in 3rd District Court.

According to court records, it's not the first time Stepper has been in trouble with the law for allegedly abusing animals.

In 1999, Stepper was cited in Stillwater County Justice Court for cruelty to animals in Fishtail, Mont. According to court papers, Stepper "shot a puppy in (the) stomach with (a) .22 caliber rifle."

Stepper was found guilty and sentenced six months in jail, with all but three days suspended. He was also fined $280 and ordered to pay $2,868 in court costs and obey all local, state and federal laws, according to court documents.

In the most recent incident, on Jan. 28, Sandy police responded to a house where a woman told investigators that her live-in boyfriend "became angry that she got a puppy and demanded it be removed from the residence," according to court records.

The angry boyfriend chased after the puppy, which ran under a bed. When the dog stuck its head out, "the defendant stomped on the puppy's head," court records state. "The puppy squirmed around on the floor and died."

During the argument, Stepper also told his girlfriend, "I'll kill you," according to court records.

"This guy obviously has a problem," said Anne Davis, executive director of the Animal Advocacy Alliance for Utah.

Stepper was being held Tuesday in the Salt Lake County Jail on $50,000 bail.

"Henry's Law," a state bill passed in 2008, allows anyone accused of animal torture to be charged with a felony offense. If the law had been passed in its original form, Davis said harming a companion animal during a domestic violence episode would have resulted in another felony charge.

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