In 1995, Orange County's Dale Franklin Wensinger brandished a weapon at the driver of a vehicle and, in a separate incident, used a weapon during the rape and beating of a woman.
For those crimes, Wensinger received laughable, slap-on-the-wrist punishments: probation for the rape and one year in jail for the brandishing crime, according to court records.
Perhaps by 2002 he believed that committing brazen felonies in OC carried no meaningful consequences.
That's when Wensinger began to terrorize his neighbors with his Rottweiler.
Twice at Lilly King Park close to South Coast Plaza, he allowed his dog to try to bite a man who was walking through the area. During the second incident, the man said to Wensinger, "Wow! That dog needs a shot."
An angry Wensinger replied, "You want to shoot my dog?"
"No," said the man. "He needs a shot. He is a hyper dog."
According to court records, Wensinger then unleased the Rottweiler and yelled, "Attack! Attack!"
The dog chased the man down and tore a piece of flesh from his thigh.
Wensinger asked the frightened, wounded man, "Do you want more?"
Several months later, another man at the same park watched Wensinger and his Rottweiller chase an elderly man.
While that man screamed for help, Wensinger yelled statements like, "I'm going to kill you" and "son of a bitch," according to the court record.
Santa Ana police eventually arrested him, a jury found him guilty and a judge sentenced him to prison.
But Wensinger got lucky. When he appealed his conviction, a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana discovered that a court reporter had lost an official transcript of his trial. They reversed all of the convictions.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
In a new trial in 2010, another jury found Wensinger guilty of five felonies involving assault and making criminal threats. His luck had evaporated. His sentencing judge was Frank "Fry em" Fasel, perhaps the most non-nonsense judge in OC history. Considering the two prior unrelated convictions, Fasel handed the bad dog owner a 368-month prison sentence. The defendant appealed again.
In a 21-page ruling this month, appellate justices determined that Wensinger had repeatedly used his dog "as a weapon" likely to "cause great bodily injury." But they found that one of the criminal threat convictions hadn't been constitutionally valid. They reversed the jury's finding and Fasel's related 16-month punishment.
Upshot: For using his Rottweiler to abuse his neighbors while barking threats, the 48-year-old Wensinger is now serving a prison sentence tougher than some blood-loving murderers receive: 29 years and four months.