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Crime & Justice

Man attacked by Gila monster sentenced for having a Gila monster

Photo by Joachim S. Müller via Flickr Creative Commons

Derek Nathaneal Castaneda was rendered unconscious and taken to the hospital in January after being attacked by the venomous, 18-inch Gila monster he kept illegally as a pet in his San Pedro home.

On Tuesday, the 34-year-old man was sentenced to three years of probation, a series of animal neglect classes, a year of AA meetings and fined $1,000 for possessing the potentially lethal reptile and a pair of rattlesnakes.

According to the City Attorney's Office, Castaneda -- on probation at the time of the attack for an earlier DUI case -- was convicted of unlawful possession of a native California reptile species, and the unlawful keeping of a wild reptile without a permit.

The Gila monster was taken to the Orange County Zoo. The snakes, illegal to possess without a permit, were reportedly euthanized.

For a safer appreciation of the cold-blooded types, perhaps try a stroll through LA Zoo's newly opened LAIR.