EL CAJON (CNS) - A Ramona man pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony charges for raising pit bulls at his home for dog fighting.
Raul Leyva, 35, pleaded guilty to five counts of owning, training or possessing a dog for dog-fighting purposes on the day his case was to go to trial at the El Cajon Courthouse.
The father of two faces anywhere from probation to 11 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 23, attorneys said.
Judge Allan Preckel indicated that he may "strike" Leyva's 1996 robbery conviction at the time of sentencing, attorneys said.
Leyva's lawyer, Vikas Bajaj, said he had experts lined up and had been prepared to go to trial today, but his client decided to plead guilty to avoid a potentially harsher sentence.
The county Department of Animal Services raided Leyva's home in April 2008, seizing a 16-by-16-foot piece of carpeting stained with dog blood.
Eric Sakach of the Humane Society of the United States testified at an earlier hearing that carpeting is used as a floor in dog fighting to give the dogs traction while they're fighting.
Authorities also found a document during the search of Leyva's home that showed a training regimen for dogs for being prepared for fights, vitamins and injuries to 10 pit bulls.
All of the dogs were seized and later euthanized.
Defense witness Richard Stratton, an author of four books about pit bulls, previously testified that none of the evidence against Leyva on its own showed that he was raising the dogs for fighting.
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