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By Brian Fraga
Standard-Times staff writer
October 22, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD - A city man is accused of killing his wife's 3-month-old kitten Tuesday, reportedly because he was upset that she treated the animal better than she treated him.
Police arrested Luis M. Alvarez, 31, of 55 Tallman St., after responding to a domestic disturbance call on Ashley Boulevard around 10:15 a.m. Tuesday.
When police officers arrived at the North End residence, they found Mr. Alvarez's wife crying and caring for the lifeless cat, which was lying on the floor, court records said.
Charged with assault and battery and animal cruelty, Mr. Alvarez was arraigned Tuesday in New Bedford District Court. Assistant District Attorney Tom Ryan requested $500 bail.
"I don't know if he just lost his temper, but this contemptible act of cruelty is my reason for asking for this bail," Mr. Ryan said.
However, Judge Bernadette Sabra released Mr. Alvarez on personal recognizance, and ordered him to return to court Dec. 18.
New Bedford police spokesman Lt. Jeffrey P. Silva later criticized the bail decision.
"When certain judges consistently set people free on nothing more than their promise to appear... it creates an obvious risk to the community," he said.
"It's not a slap on the wrist. It's a slap in the face."
Mr. Alvarez, whose criminal record consists of a dismissed assault and battery charge, admitted to police he and his wife were arguing when he grabbed her cat and violently threw it to the floor, court records said.
Tigi, a brown tiger domestic short-hair kitten, died instantly. The defendant's wife grabbed the animal and ran to her mother's residence, where she called police, court records said.
Mr. Alvarez's wife told police she had dropped off the couple's two children at school and returned home when the defendant began arguing with her.
She later told the court Mr. Alvarez previously had been violent to her, and that he said she was "not a good woman." She said he had yelled at her in a manner that made her think he was going to "do something."
She said she tried to leave, but Mr. Alvarez grabbed her wrists and took her keys, court records said.
Mr. Alvarez admitted to the argument, but told police he did not assault his wife, according to police reports.
The argument escalated when Mr. Alvarez allegedly grabbed Tigi, which his wife was holding in her arms, and threw it against the floor, court records said.
Mr. Alvarez told police he was upset because his wife treated the kitten better than she did him. He said he did not know the kitten had died, court records said.
Animal control officers were called to retrieve the kitten. It was taken to Boston for a necropsy to determine the exact cause of death, court records said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Alvarez's wife filed a restraining order, which Judge Sabra approved Tuesday for one year.
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