The trial of a birdwatcher accused of animal cruelty for shooting a cat ended in a mistrial yesterday after a verdict could not be reached by jurors.
Jim Stevenson, the founder of the Galveston Ornithological Society, admitted he shot a cat because he saw it hunting a threatened species of bird.
Stevenson stated that he thought the cat was a feral cat and was a threat to the birds, so he decided to shoot the cat. But a toll bridge worker claimed that the cat was his and that he took care of it which would make him the cat’s owner.
A Texas state law bars the killing of domesticated animals without the owner’s permission. If Stevenson was convicted, he would have faced up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The jury deliberated for 8 1/2 hours before the judge declared the case a mistrial.
Stevenson’s attorney said, “The jury was hopelessly deadlocked, so the government has to decide if they are going to waste more of taxpayers’ money trying this again. But they can try this a thousand times and they will never get a guilty because he didn’t commit a felony.”
The Assistant District Attorney said the cat’s death was a “terrible thing that did not have to happen.”
Source: Houston Chronicle
Photo: Associated Press