A Billings MT man pled to a reduced charge for killing his neighbor’s cat. We wonder whether the sentence fits the crime and what it says about the penalty for a supposed nuisance killing.
Last October the family of a cat named Tiny told police they looked outside after hearing a gunshot and saw their neighbor, William Crain, putting something in an alleyway garbage bin. That something turned out to be Tiny, placed in a box and found later by his family, and who had to be euthanized.
At the time of his arrest Crain is reported to have complained to the police that the cat was a stray who had been killing birds in his yard. Whether he genuinely thought this to be true or not we cannot tell, but it seems to have been the right thing to say.
Crain was originally charged with a felony crime of aggravated animal cruelty for allegedly trapping Tiny and beating him with a hammer, which seems strange to us since the family reportedly told police about the gunshot, but we do not have a lot of information on the case. When evidence later showed that Tiny had been shot the charges were reduced to misdemeanor animal cruelty.
This past Monday, District Judge Mary Jane Knisely passed sentence. Crain’s punishment after pleading guilty to shooting Tiny and causing his death is a six month suspended jail sentence and payment of $358 in restitution.
Now we know the value of Tiny’s life, $358. Or, is $358 the figure that represents the penalty for committing a nuisance killing? We don’t know.