CHARLESTON -- A man faces the possibility of up to six years in prison after he admitted beating a dog to death in Lerna last year.

Deon D. Nailing pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated cruelty for the Feb. 1, 2016, death of a pit bull he owned that authorities said was found disposed of about being beaten with a mallet.

Nailing, 36, of Charleston entered the guilty plea with no agreement on the sentence he would receive. His sentencing hearing was scheduled for June 9.

The charge is a felony offense that accuses Nailing of intending to harm or kill the dog, described as a "companion animal," and causing its death by a means other than euthanasia as prescribed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

The offense can normally result in a prison sentence of one to three years with a conviction, but Nailing is eligible for twice the normal maximum sentence because of his criminal record.

Prison time won't be required, and a probation term of up to 2½ years will also be possible.

Nailing also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic battery charge alleging he hit a woman on the same day as the dog was killed. A felony theft charge in connection with a stolen vehicle in April 2015 was dismissed.

Also, Assistant State's Attorney Tom Bucher agreed not to file additional charges against Nailing in connection with reports that he sent threatening text messages to his ex-girlfriend, the dog's co-owner.

Coles County Circuit Judge Brien O'Brien accepted Nailing's guilty plea. Public Defender Anthony Ortega represented Nailing.

According to evidence at earlier hearings in Nailing's case, Coles County animal control officers investigated the dog's death after trash collectors found its body in a trash bin in Lerna.

The officers recognized the dog from other investigations, and a veterinarian's examination determined it died from blunt force trauma.

A mallet the officers said could have been used to beat the dog was found at the Lerna residence where Nailing then lived, according to the earlier evidence.

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Deputy Managing Editor, Digital

Deputy Managing Editor of Digital for the Herald & Review.

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