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· Alien Member
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Jealously Allegedly Drove Man To Kill Woman's Cat

NEW YORK (CBS News) ― A trial has begun in the case of a baseball player-turned-actor accused of brutally killing a cat in a jealous rage after complaining that his ex-girlfriend cared more for the feline than she did for him.

Assistant District Attorney Leila Kermani said the cat named Norman died with broken teeth, broken ribs, a broken leg, a torn tongue, massive internal injuries including bruised lungs and a bruised liver and a chest cavity filled with blood.

"The defendant, in a fit of anger and rage, beat a defenseless animal to death," Kermani told the jury in her opening remarks Wednesday. "The defendant killed Norman simply because he was an angry, jealous and drunken bully."

Former New York Mets baseball minor leaguer Joseph Petcka, 37, is on trial on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals for killing Norman on March 27, 2007, after a night of heavy drinking. He faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

Petcka's lawyer, Charles Hochbaum, admitted his client kicked the 8-year-old tabby and "swatted him really hard" after the cat bit him, but he said his client did not mean to kill him.

"This was a tragic accident," Hochbaum said. "It was not intentional."

Hochbaum complained the district attorney's office never offered his client a plea deal. He said outside court he believes that was because of the publicity the case attracted and the urgings of cat fanciers.

Norman's owner, Lisa Altobelli, testified she had dated Petcka about six weeks before he killed her cat. She said one night they quarreled and he began drinking heavily. She said she went to bed to avoid him but he woke her around 3 a.m. by putting his knee in her ribs and complaining that Norman had attacked him.

Altobelli, a Sports Illustrated reporter, said she left the apartment after Petcka refused to calm down.

She said Petcka had complained, "You love that cat more than you love me," but she had no idea Norman would be in danger. When she returned home Norman did not meet her at the door as usual. She found his body under her bedside table.

Petcka, a pitcher briefly in the Mets' minor league system in 1992, later appeared in a paper towel commercial and had small roles in "Sex and the City" and other television shows. Hochbaum said his client had more recently worked as a bartender and waiter.

The former minor leaguer, a hulking 6-foot-3, 205 pound man rejected a plea offer from the Manhattan District Attorney's office in Dec. 2007. The deal would have allowed him to serve only three months in jail, but Petcka decided to take his chances at trial.

Before the trial began, The New York Post reported that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus was getting numerous phone calls letters from animal lovers dismissing Petcka's claim of self-defense, noting that it's ludicrous to believe that a 205-pound man was threatened by a 7-pound feline. Some even called the courtroom demanding his death by hanging, the Post reported.

A thread on a message board on the Internet Movie Database, where Petcka's acting credits are listed, is populated with cat lovers wishing Petcka bad luck at his trial. One poster on that board wrote "Norman was more of a man than he will ever be!"

· MassCops Angel
121,617 Posts
Cat Justice Scratched


PUSS-OUT: Francisco DeFlaviis refused to agree with 11 other jurors that Joseph Petcka intentionally killed Norman, the beloved cat of ex-girlfriend Lisa Altobelli.


The dead-cat trial is hung!
Thanks to a single holdout juror, five days of hissing, yowling, and flying fur in a windowless deliberations room concluded yesterday with the panel deadlocked in the bizarre "self-defense" cat bludgeoning trial.
"It was 11 to 1," an exhausted-looking juror No. 11, Shamsul Islam, sighed as he left Manhattan Supreme Court.

PEYSER: Deadlocked Panel Coughs Up Quite A Hairball

"The whole room was shouting," recalled juror No. 3, Douglas Collman, noting that nearly every juror believed the cat killer's story of stomping his girlfriend's cat to death in self-defense was "bulls - -t."
Deliberations reached the boiling point, Collman said, with jurors shouting "You're being irrational!" to lone holdout Francisco DeFlaviis.
Unless prosecutors give up, the hung jury means out-of-work actor Joseph Petcka must be retried on charges he kicked little Norman to death last year in a jealous, drunken rage.

PUSS-OUT: Francisco DeFlaviis refused to agree with 11 other jurors that Joseph Petcka intentionally killed Norman , the beloved cat of ex-girlfriend Lisa Altobelli.

"You love that cat more than me!" his now-ex-girlfriend, Sports Illustrated reporter Lisa Altobelli, told jurors Petcka screamed before she stormed out of her Greenwich Street apartment - returning to find Norman cold and stiff in his favorite hiding spot under her nightstand.
DeFlaviis, 32, wasn't convinced Petcka intended to inflict extreme physical pain when he delivered the kicks that caused the cat's death, other jurors said afterward.
The holdout believed Petcka was intoxicated but had no ill will toward Norman, and simply kicked him too hard by accident, Collman told reporters.
In two days of testimony, Petcka had recounted a battle of African-safari proportions, during which Norman variously "lunged," "reared around," and even knocked him on his "butt," so relentless were the tabby's predations.
Petcka, a 6-foot-1 former Mets minor-league relief pitcher, weighs 210 pounds. Norman, who was fully declawed, weighed just under 8 pounds.
"My personal opinion? I think he kicked the s- -t out of the cat," Collman said. "Out of anger for the girlfriend. He took it out on the cat."
Petcka, who faces up to two years prison if ever retried and convicted of felony animal cruelty, left court saying he was "grateful" at least one juror believed him.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Daniel FitzGerald released the jurors with his repeated thanks.

· MassCops Angel
121,617 Posts
Re: Cat Justice Scratched

Prosecutors may seek retrial in cat cruelty case

NEW YORK -- New York City prosecutors say they're considering a retrial for the former minor league pitcher and actor who killed his girlfriend's cat.
Manhattan jurors deadlocked 11-1 on Friday at the aggravated animal cruelty trial for Joseph Petcka.
Petcka says he didn't mean to hurt Norman the cat. He said he overreacted when the cat bit him.
The former Mets minor leaguer and "Sex in the City" actor said on NBC's "Today" show he's grateful for the lone juror who believed he didn't act intentionally.

· MassCops Angel
121,617 Posts
Plea Deal Possible In N.Y. Cat-Kill Case

Joseph Petcka testified that he didn't mean to hurt the 7-year-old, 8-pound tabby named Norman, but that he overreacted to the cat's biting him. (File)

NEW YORK (AP) ― The lawyer for an actor and former minor league baseball player who killed his girlfriend's cat says he is trying to strike a plea deal with prosecutors so his client can avoid another trial.

Jurors deadlocked 11-1 last month after 37-year-old Joseph Petcka's trial on a charge of felony aggravated animal cruelty.

On Thursday, defense lawyer Charles Hochbaum told Manhattan Justice Michael Obus that he and prosecutors are "prepared to discuss resolving this case without the necessity of another trial."

Petcka testified that he didn't mean to hurt the 7-year-old, 8-pound tabby named Norman, but that he overreacted to the cat's biting him.

Prosecutors said he killed Norman in March 2007 in a drunken, jealous rage.
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