Case Snapshot
Case ID: 4096
Classification: Bestiality, Beating
Animal: cat
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Wednesday, Nov 10, 2004

County: Howard

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Steven Richard Schatz

Case Updates: 5 update(s) available

Howard County Court documents show charges against a man (warrant issued on Nov 10, 2004) for one felony count of Animal Mutilation, 2 misdemeanor counts of Animal Cruelty, and one misdemeanor count of Perverted Practice. In part, the Statement of Charges reads as follows:

Upon examination, the cat "Clyde" was observed to have…severe hemorrhages in eyes, hemorrhages of tongue, fractured and displaced teeth, was unable to stand or walk, vomited blood, was incontinent, severe liver trauma, flaccid rectal muscles and splayed rear legs consistent with an object being forced into the rectum or with sexual assault, 7 broken ribs, some freshly broken and others in stages of healing. (The Veterinarian) also advised that all of Clyde's nails were broken and split. She advised that there was blue and yellow fleece fibers trapped in the broken and split nails. These items were collected as evidence.

"Based on the information obtained during the investigation it was determined that the cat "Clyde" was the victim of intentionally inflicted physical abuse that ultimately resulted in his death. It was also determined that the suspect, Steven Schatz, willfully and intentionally inflicted the injury upon the animal.

This determination was based on the injuries that were observed and documented by the Veterinarian as well as evidence collected. The injuries show that the animal had been systematically abused over a period of time.

The exam also showed that the animal had been sodomized during the abuse causing internal injuries. It is suspected that Schatz would wrap Clyde up the yellow and blue fleece shirt to protect himself from Clyde's claws. Once the animal was secured Schatz would inflict abuse upon the animal by hitting him and sodomizing him. The tape recording of the abuse obtained by (his girlfriend) provided audio recorded evidence of the animal's abuse with the voice of the suspect Steven Schatz and the screams of the animal being abused. This voice was identified and confirmed by Schatz to be his voice."

Schatz has prior arrests for Possession, Possesion with Intent to Distribute, and writing bad checks.  

Prosecutor Lisa Vallario
Assistant State's Attorney
3451 Court House
Drive Ellicott City, MD 21043
Attn: State's Attorney's Office Fax # 410-313-3144


Case Updates

Steven Richard Schatz has been released early from jail. He was sentenced on May 27 and was released at 2:05 AM August 7. If you wish to contact Judge Neil Edward Axel, send a polite letter to:

The Honorable Judge Axel
3451 Court House Dr.
Ellicott City, Md., 21043
410-480-7700
Update posted on Aug 7, 2005 - 3:06AM 
Steven Richard Schatz was sentenced by Judge Axel to 90 days in jail and 3 years probation - a period in which he is not to have a pet or live in a home that has a pet - and to pay $1,889 in veterinary bills to the owner of the cat, which was euthanized because of its injuries. Many animal groups are outraged at such a light sentence.

Prosecutor Lisa Vallario said she received more than 500 letters and a petition asking that Schatz receive the maximum penalty for mutilating an animal, a felony that carries up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Vallario asked that he be given 18 months in jail.
Source: Baltimore Sun - May 27, 2005
Update posted on May 27, 2005 - 9:17AM 
Steven Schatz will be senteced on Wednesday, May 26 at 1:15 PM.
Update posted on May 23, 2005 - 1:18PM 
District Court Judge Neil Axel finds 38-year-old Steven Richard Schatz guilty of beating the family cat. He was acquitted of committing a perverted sexual practice with the cat.

In court, the judge heard testimony from veterinarians, pet detectives, family and friends.

But prosecutors say the centerpiece of their case is an audio tape of Schatz punching and allegedly sodomizing Clyde.

Schatz's attorney wanted the tape thrown out, calling it a violating of his privacy.

Judge Axel disagreed and ordered Schatz to stay away from the cat and its owners.

Clyde's abuse came the attention of police last year when the cat's owner thought he'd fallen from a bathroom sink.

After several visits to the veterinarian, doctors detected abuse.

Prosecutors say Schatz abused Clyde for about 4 months.

The abuse started when he moved into his apartment building with his girlfriend who is Clyde's owner.

Animal rights groups are watching this case because they say abuse that starts with animals usually moves on to people.

Schatz could face up to 3 years behind bars when he is sentenced next month. Sentencing is scheduled for May 29, 2005.
Source: WJZ - April 1, 2005
Update posted on Apr 2, 2005 - 12:10AM 
At Schatz's trial last week, county prosecutor Lisa Vallario stood in front of the spectators gathered in Howard County District Court and held up a binder full of some 500 faxes and e-mails from around the country.

"This is full of correspondences received just this week about the case," Vallario, an assistant state's attorney, said.

Much of the trial hinges on whether Judge Neil Edward Axel will allow an audio tape allegedly recording Schatz abusing the cat to be admitted into evidence.

Vallario argued that the recording proves Schatz's abuse of the cat. But defense attorney James Elliott protested the admission of the tape on the grounds that it violates a federal wire-tapping law prohibiting such recordings in a person's home.

Axel has yet to rule on whether to allow the tape.

Spence and her daughter were among those who testified for the prosecution March 25.

Spence testified that she bought Clyde for the girl after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as a way to help comfort her in the face of the attacks.

"He was a really nice cat," the student testified. "Everyone who met him liked him." She and the cat slept together, the girl added. "It was a comfort thing, like a safety blanket," she said.

Spence testified that she began dating Schatz, a bartender at the Phoenix Emporium in Ellicott City, during the late fall of 2003. Shortly thereafter, Schatz moved in with Spence and her daughter, according to Spence's testimony.

Not long afterwards, Clyde's demeanor began to change, Spence's daughter testified. "He seemed kind of depressed," she said.

On April 14, 2004, Spence and Schatz took Clyde to the Green Valley Animal Hospital, where he was found to have "major blunt force trauma injuries," according to charging documents. Clyde had hemorrhages on the eyes and tongue, a fractured tooth and a displaced tooth, and was vomiting blood, according to charging documents.

Based on Clyde's injuries, Spence decided to conduct her own investigation to find the cause of the harm and planted a voice-activated recording device in her daughter's bedroom, she testified.

On April 30, Spence took Clyde to the animal hospital again, where the vet found injuries consistent with sodomy, including broken ribs and flaccid rectal muscles, according to charging documents and testimony from the veterinarian who treated Clyde.

That day, Spence also recovered the recorder and found that it had recorded ''the cat screaming in obvious pain and agony," according to charging documents.

Also on the tape was a male voice yelling and talking to the cat. ''This voice was identified by Spence and confirmed by Schatz to be his voice," according to charging documents.

Two days later, Danette Spence gathered Schatz's personal belongings and took them to the Phoenix Emporium to tell him he was no longer welcome at her home, she testified.

Schatz became enraged and spent the rest of the night beating on her door, yelling and driving around the parking lot of her apartment complex from 3:30 a.m. until 6:30 a.m., Spence testified.

Elliott pointed out that Spence resumed her relationship with Schatz after Clyde was euthanized and that she left him many telephone messages during that time. Spence testified that she did so out of fear.
Source: Howard County Times - March 31, 2005
Update posted on Apr 1, 2005 - 9:27AM 

References

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