Bastrop pastor on trial, accused of abandoning cat


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherK_KVUE

Posted on May 13, 2013 at 6:03 PM

Updated Monday, May 13 at 6:20 PM

BASTROP, Texas -- The trial is underway in the case of a Bastrop pastor charged with unreasonably abandoning a cat in January of last year.

The cat was found under a bridge and later died. The treating vet has said the cat died because of injuries from a fall. Some activists say they believe that Pastor Rick Bartlett threw the 12-year-old cat off the bridge.

Back in January 2012, a woman walking her dog found the cat, Moody, under Highway Bridge 150. Animal control responded, and Moody later died.

Opening statements reveal Bartlett had trapped the cat, told Animal Control he would return it to the owners, then let the cat go free.

Bartlett's Attorney, Chris Dillon, told the jury his client kept the cat in the trap because Animal Control wasn't open over the MLK holiday weekend in 2012.

Once open, Animal Control pointed out the cat had a collar and tag and offered to return it to the owners. Instead, Bartlett said he would. However, the state says he let the cat out of the cage in his pickup, and as a result, the cat ended up dead.

The owners of the cat started an online petition called Justice for Murdered Pet Cat Moody.  At last check, it has more than 22,800 signatures nationwide. They've also hired a attorney for a civil suit.

"It was not just that they lost Moody, but the way they lost Moody, and to find out that a neighbor had their cat for three days and apparently didn't feed it," said Attorney Bill Aleshire.

Aleshire says the civil case is a theft case because Bartlett trapped Moody in his yard. That trial will get underway when the criminal one is complete.

The trial resumes Thursday May 16 at 9:00 a.m.

If convicted of this misdemeanor, Bartlett could be ordered to pay a fine and face jail time.