Samuel Wilson Sr. admitted in court Thursday he spent most of his adult life in prison. And he admitted he deserved it. Wilson had tried to hire a hit man to kill two cops while Wilson was dealing drugs, then got out and went back to jail after he sold more drugs. He had other convictions, too, including cruelty to children.
“I needed to be in prison then - I accept that,” Wilson, 47, said in court Thursday.
Then in May, after Wilson had been out of prison for a few years, Rock Hill police and animal control officers seized 13 of his dogs. The animals included “skeletal” dogs that were “suffering, starving and emaciated,” and had “open sores and wounds,” prosecutors said.
Eight of the dogs seized had to be put down, prosecutors said. Three dogs that were euthanized had no food or water, had injuries and wounds that made them unable to walk, and endured “unnecessary pain,” said Marina Hamilton, 16th Circuit assistant solicitor who handled the case with prosecutor Matthew Hogge.
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Wilson received 45 months in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to three counts of felony ill treatment of animals.
Hamilton argued that not only did Wilson force the dogs to live in brutal conditions, Wilson failed to get the animals medical treatment for obvious ailments. More, Wilson’s criminal history that dates back to 1987 and shows a pattern of refusing to obey the law, said Hamilton the prosecutor.
Wilson has two convictions for felony cocaine dealing, cruelty to children, and other crimes that include conspiracy to commit murder. In 1992 Wilson was convicted of attempting to hire a hit man to kill two Rock Hill Police Department officers. The hit man turned out to be an undercover agent.
Wilson served less than half of a 25-year sentence for that assassination attempt and a concurrent drug conviction, then was sent to prison again in 2001 on a 12 year sentence after he was convicted again of selling cocaine, according to a State Law Enforcement Division records and prosecutors.
“Mr. Wilson has shown a lifelong contempt for the laws of this state,” Hamilton said.
Wilson said in court he “bit off more than than he could chew” when he kept the dogs without means to support them. He sobbed in court, saying he worked cutting grass and wanted to continue to be a father and grandfather who had changed.
“I’m tired of giving the state years of my life,” Wilson said in court.
Yet Hamilton, the prosecutor, said Wilson was “breeding dogs” at the Rock Hill site and failed to give the animals even minimal care. Hamilton said in court evidence suggested that dogs may have been used for dog fighting, but Wilson’s lawyer, York County assistant public defender Jeff Zuschke, said there was no dog fighting.
“Mr. Wilson just couldn’t say no” to taking others’ dogs and raising them, Zuschke said.
Wilson also has to serve five years probation after he gets out of prison. Visiting Circuit Court Judge Craig Brown gave Wilson one last condition to the probation.
Wilson cannot own any animals after he gets out of jail.