Santeria Priest to be Tried for Animal Cruelty

TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) - A Santeria priest accused of decapitating and mutilating animals during religious rituals has been ordered to stand trial in California.

Rafael Giralt is charged with felony animal cruelty. Prosecutors say he decapitated pigeons, roosters, chicks and a turtle, and dismembered a goat for religious sacrifice.

Giralt, who is free on $20,000 bail, says he is a priest of Santeria, a blend of traditional African religions and Catholicism.

Deputy District Attorney Paul Guthrie says a tipster told animal control officers that Giralt's wife was sprinkling blood around the couple's Lawndale home and on the sidewalk. Officers found the dismembered animals in the backyard.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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