Man Not Guilty Of Cruelty For Mariniating His Cat

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Man Not Guilty Of Cruelty For Mariniating His Cat

Postby Todd » Mon Feb 21, 2011 3:15 pm

Cat owner acquitted of cruelty to feline

By Matt Gryta


Updated: February 18, 2011, 4:18 PM

A man who drew national attention after being accused of marinating his cat with plans to make a meal of the SPCA-adopted pet was cleared Thursday of animal cruelty charges.

Acting City Judge Philip M. Marshall found Gary L. Korkuc, 52, not guilty of misdemeanor animal cruelty and criticized as legally flawed the state's century-old Agriculture and Markets Law under which he was charged. Marshall also noted police wrongly accused Korkuc of marinating the cat, named Navarro, with plans to eat it.

The case unfolded at about 7:45 p.m. Aug. 8 after Buffalo police stopped Korkuc for failing to signal as he turned onto Broadway at Memorial Drive.

Officers Jerry Guilian and John Poisson testified at the trial that, during the traffic stop, they could hear a cat meowing in the car and discovered Navarro, Korkuc's 4-year-old cat, doused in olive oil and spices, including crushed red pepper.

The officers said Korkuc told them that he didn't like the cat, which had gotten into kitchen food items by accident, and that he was taking it "for a Sunday bath." Police called the SPCA Serving Erie County for advice.

Molly Rubenstein, an SPCA veterinary technician, testified that she had to bathe the cat twice to eliminate the "very strong smell" of the crushed red peppers. Navarro, she said, "looked like a drowned rat."

Dr. Helene Chevalier, the SPCA veterinarian who treated the cat, testified that Navarro was so quiet that she feared the animal was in shock.

Korkuc, who initially was charged with felony animal cruelty, ultimately was prosecuted on a misdemeanor count.

Marshall found him guilty of failing to signal for a turn and fined him $70 and $80 in court fees, all of which have to be paid by March 31. But the judge found him not guilty of failing to stop at a stop sign.

The judge praised Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III for reducing the animal cruelty charge to a misdemeanor. Sedita, however, said of the verdict: "I respectfully disagree with the judge's interpretation of that law."

The judge also praised trial prosecutor Rachel E. Pilkington for her sensitive handling of the court proceeding.

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