On Friday, Alex Wullaert is once again scheduled to appear before a judget in New Haven Superior Court on charges that
It will be Wullaert's 14th time on the docket since Desmond's body, stuffed in a bag and thrown in the water near Lake Drive in Madison, was found a year ago Monday, on March 11, 2012 by Madison Police Officer Kimberly Lauria. And every one of those 14 times that he has been scheduled to appear in New Haven Superior Court, people representing the group Justice For Desmond have shown up to make sure that justice is done. They wait on the steps of the court house before the hearing, they sometimes sit behind Wullaert in the courthouse, and then sometimes follow him outside to his car when the hearing is done.
"We want jail time. And a felony on his record. And that he not be allowed to own animals ever," said Micah Rapini, one of the leaders of the group. She said there is a stipulation that he not own animals while the court proceedings are doing on, but that the group wants that extended, forever. "We'd like that to be permanent."
The Facebook page says "Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Lamotta offered Alex a 5 year sentence, suspended after 2. Alex's lawyer rejected the offer, and Alex plead not guilty. We return to court Friday March 8th, 2013 at 12:00. New Haven Superior Court 121 Elm Street. New Haven, CT 06510. Justice for Desmond will be there at 12:00. ♥"
More than 5,903 likes on the Facebook page
The Facebook group Justice For Desmond now has more than 5,903 likes and in the past year, Rapini said, the organization has grown into something more than an online way to connect with an important cause.
"I've met some amazing people," Rapini said. "I think all of the regular supporters have made new and forever friends."
A quick glance at the posts in the Facebook group supports that notion. Not only does the group communicate about when to gather before Wullaert's hearings, they also post information about other animals needing help, about success stories of dogs who have been rescued, and even posts offering to other members of the group following major weather events.
"Does anyone need anything?"
Following the historic Blizzard of 2013, for example, this post appeared: "How did everyone do in the storm!? Does anyone need anything? Let me know if there's anything I can do to help!"
Group members also make sure other members have rides to the court hearings.
Because of the possibility of bad weather Friday, Rapini said she's not sure how many people will show up. But she said she's confident there will at least be a small group. She plans to show up at noon, and the hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. She reminds everyone to check the Facebook page before they show up, in case the hearing is rescheduled or there is other news.
OK Friends. As always, please check this page before heading down to court. Remember it is an afternoon appearance tomorrow. I'll be there at 12:00 and Alex is due to appear before the judge at 2:00. CT is expecting snow, with about 3-6" thought to hit New Haven. I will update you if the court house is closed because of weather. If we're still on, please don't put yourselves in danger on the road! If you don't feel comfortable driving, Please just stay home! Thank you. You guys rock. I will update either way tomorrow. xoxo
With the one year anniversary of the discovery of Desmond's body coming up, Rapini said the enthusiasm of group members shows no signs of flagging.
"I'll be there no matter what"
"The group might be larger or smaller depending on the weather, but I'll be there no matter what as long as the court proceedings are going on," Rapini said. "This will be our 14th time on the docket. That sounds terrible. But not bad when look at other cases, some are in 30s and 40s. We we have been there every time."
Rapini said the first day, she didn't know if anyone would show up.
"I didn't know if I would be the only one there, and they kept coming and coming. Single digit weather, they kept coming. Snow and rain and whatever, they kept coming. We just care, we care so much," she said.
Thanks, again, to the officer who discovered Desmond's body
She said people have come from all over Connecticut, from Massachusetts, and from as far away as upstate New York. The Facebook members are from all over the country and around the world.
A year ago Monday, Rapini was driving through Madison. She later learned it was around the same time that Officer Lauria discovered the body.
"I was actually driving through Madison, when Officer Lauria was responding to the call," she said. She said she and the other group members are grateful for everything that Officer Lauria did. Instead of just discarding the dead dog, she investigated it thoroughly, work that resulted in the arrest.
"We really owe all of this to her," Rapini said.
More on Desmond
- Branford Man Arrested for Killing His Dog
- [Updated] Justice For Desmond Demonstrators Plan June 5 Return
- "Justice for Desmond" Prepares to Return [Video]
- Wullaert Applies for AR in Dog Slaying Case
- Accused Dog Killer May Enter Plea Agreement