Davey’s Voice, the nonprofit formed on behalf of Davey — a six-month-old miniature pinscher puppy who died last year after being tortured by 20-year-old SBCC student Duanying Chen — has started a petition protesting Chen’s early release from County Jail.
Back in July, Chen was sentenced by Judge Brian Hill to one year in jail and five years of probation for felony animal abuse, for use of deadly weapon, and for violating a court order not to contact his ex-girlfriend, who told authorities Chen strangled her until she nearly passed out. Both Chen and his then-girlfriend were Chinese international students at City College.
The online petition, created Wednesday, gathered 5,000 supporters within two days and had 5,633 signatures at press time. Davey’s Voice calls on Sheriff Bill Brown, the Santa Barbara County Probation Office, and Santa Barbara Immigration and Customs (ICE) officials to protest Chen’s proposed early release from jail after “serving just half of his sentence.” The petition expresses concern that, pending ICE action, Chen might be able to retain his student visa and continue his studies in Santa Barbara at the end of his jail sentence. The petition urges authorities to ensure Chen participates in a court-ordered 52-week-long Batterer’s Intervention Program with the county probation department and that he loses his student visa and is “immediately” deported back to China if he is released from jail.
In an interview with The Santa Barbara Independent, Deputy District Attorney Kevin Weichbrod said it is common practice for California jails to release inmates after they have served only part of their sentence. This is due to the rule of credit for time served, also known as good conduct time — for each day served, an inmate’s sentence is reduced by one day. Despite the petition’s statement that officials have classified Chen as “low risk” and “ineligible for the Batterer’s Intervention Program,” Weichbrod confirmed that Chen would carry out the county-mandated Batterer’s Intervention Program during his probation.
The Sheriff’s Office said there is an immigrant detainer on file for Chen and they will notify ICE of his pending release. According to the Sheriff’s Office, “The Sheriff is committed to ensuring that Duanying Chen serves the maximum time legally allowed.” Although Chen didn’t qualify for the Sheriff’s Treatment Program — separate from the county’s Batterer’s Intervention Program — “an individualized case plan was crafted to specifically address his needs.”
Chen is scheduled to appear in Santa Barbara Superior Court on December 20.