Man Who Stabbed Cat Acquitted on Self Defense Claim
University of Scranton senior Peter Freshour was found not guilty of one count of animal cruelty on Monday by Lacawanna County, PA jurors. Freshour admitted stabbing a cat to death last summer but claimed he acted in self defense. The prosecution acknowledged after the verdict that the basic facts of the case had not been in dispute but their job had been to prove malicious intent.
According to reports from the courthouse, two very different accounts of the events that led to a stray cat’s death were presented by the opposing sides.
Freshour – who the defense said just happened to be carrying a knife on him at the time – said the cat attacked him as he left his Scranton apartment and he was unable to dislodge the animal, so stabbed it to get it to stop and then “finished off” the wounded animal.
Freshour claimed the cat attached itself to his leg and sunk its claws and teeth into him. He said it came at him with ferocity, with hair raised, and hissing. He then acted out his description of the cat’s demeanor. Freshour said he stabbed the cat two or three times then finished it off after it crawled away crying in pain.
Two witnesses said they saw Freshuor stab the cat but said they did not see it attack him. The prosecution noted that a police officer called to investigate the stabbing did not see any of Freshor’s injuries and was not told of an attack.
Freshour’s attorney Paul Walker of Scranton said his client has a rare immune disease called Wilson’s Disease and was afraid the cat might be rabid.
The gray cat was known to neighbors variously as Pepper and as Baby. When Freshour appeared in court for a hearing in August 2012, following the incident, police alleged he used a bowl of food to lure the cat, then stabbed it to death, even as it tried to escape. The police said they found the dead cat in a trash can. Freshour claimed self defense at the hearing but the judge decided there was sufficient evidence for the matter to go to trial.
Animal activists followed the case and attended yesterday’s trial, though the matter did not get widespread exposure. Denise Kumor, who was there looking for justice for the murdered cat said “I’m very disenheartened with the justice system, but I have been for a while anyway. Animals are considered property and the laws have to change not just here but in the state of Pennsylvania.” She told the Times-Tribune, “In my mind, he is guilty, he always will be guilty, he knows he’s guilty.”
Denise Kumor is the founder of Tracey’s HopeHospice Care and Rescue for Domestic Animals, Inc. The organization posted about the trial at Facebook today, saying:
“Peter FRESHOUR was found “Not Guilty” of Animal Cruelty Charges by jury yesterday in Lackawanna County Court – The jury was told by Judge Michael Barrasse that they (the jury) needed to find Mr. Freshour Guilty or not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt that he killed the cat with “malicious intent” – Supposedly the jury had no solid evidence that there was “malicious intent” just witnesses testimony and the fact that Mr. Freshour was claiming “self defense” – Apparently Freshour’s attorney was upset by the fact that “everyone” snickered in the courtroom when he stated to the jury that “feral cats were rated the most dangerous animals in the USA” and blamed that on our activists – There is a difference between a feral and a stray cat – But everyone knows that cats, feral or strays, are far from being the “most dangerous animals in the USA” Freshour had several character witnesses on the stand, one being a legendary professor from the University of Scranton who taught the Judge and Freshour’s attorney … no furthur comments needed – Thanks for your support and your prayers in this case.”
Local Channel 16 news report on the trial: