COACHELLA, Calif. - An Irvine woman has been ordered to stand trial on a felony charge of animal cruelty for allegedly leaving her dog in a car parked at a Coachella fast food restaurant in May of 2014, resulting in its death.
Charu Khanna, 30, is scheduled to be arraigned June 10 in connection
with the May 2014 death of her dog Harlem. She remains free on $5,000 bail.
According to testimony at her preliminary hearing, Khanna told sheriff's deputies she was at a Coachella Valley casino on May 4, 2014, and stopped at a Del Taco restaurant in the 85400 block of Vista Del Norte, to get food before continuing home to Orange County.
When the vehicle suffered a mechanical problem, Khanna allegedly left it parked there about 24 hours, with Harlem inside. The dog was discovered dead the following day. Temperatures during the two days reached 101 and 97 degrees, respectively, according to the prosecution.
A deputy who worked on the case testified that Khanna said the dog was dead before she left the animal.
Superior Court Judge Charles E. Stafford Jr. ruled there was probable cause to send the case to trial, and also denied a motion by defense attorney Milton Grimes seeking to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
``I think the reasonable inference is that the dog went into distress and died,'' the judge said.
Khanna pleaded guilty on two separate occasions in 2013 to felony possession of methamphetamine, making her ineligible for probation should she be found guilty in this case, according to the criminal complaint.
News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 will deliver updates as the trial takes place.