Man to face trial in fatal arrow attack on neighbor's cat
A man will face trial on two animal-cruelty counts for allegedly using a bow and two arrows to kill a neighbor's tabby cat, a judge ruled Monday.
Robert Eugene Brunner, 47, was jailed on $75,000 bond in June, when he pleaded not guilty to two counts of maliciously or intentionally killing an animal and one count of animal abuse.
Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman dismissed one of the shooting counts after Brunner's defense attorney argued he couldn't be held separately liable for each arrow found in the cat.
"I am so thrilled that finally somebody listened," said the cat's owner, Janeen Bubien. "I think that justice is going to be served."
The 3-year-old tabby named Bill was found near Bubien's home in a semi-rural part of Vista with metal arrows in its neck and back the morning of April 12, 2006. The cat died two days later after undergoing surgery.
Bubien said kids in the neighborhood spotted a cat matching Bill's description with arrows sticking out of it a day or two after the cat went missing. It took another day before the cat, who had gotten stuck underneath a patio deck, could be coaxed out and taken to a veterinarian.
"This cat suffered horribly," Deputy District Attorney Katherine Flaherty said after the hearing.
According to a prosecution witness, Brunner said he fired a crossbow at the cat because it was urinating in his yard.
"He said he shot it with arrows and it was stuck to the tree," said Deena Marie Thornton, who testified Monday at Brunner's preliminary hearing.
Brunner's attorney, public defender Cherie Brenner, questioned Thornton's testimony, saying the woman may have been motivated by a cash reward for information about the cat's case.
"He says he didn't do it," said Brenner.
Brunner, who was already in custody on an unrelated probation violation in a domestic violence case when the animal abuse charges were filed in June, faces up to four years and eight months in prison if convicted, Flaherty said.
Brunner was ordered to return to court on Aug. 20 to get a trial date.
Bubien, who sued Brunner in small claims court while the criminal investigation was pending, said a civil judge awarded her a $2,500 default settlement, plus $5,000 in moving expenses, in May after Brunner failed to appear. That money has not been paid.