Case Snapshot
Case ID: 4289
Classification: Choking / Strangulation / Suffocation
Animal: cat
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Tuesday, Nov 30, 2004

County: Hernando

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Daniel Sean Hayes

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

Daniel Sean Hayes, 43, of St. Johnsbury, VT, faces multiple felony charges stemming from his alleged December 2004 killing of his estranged wife's cat in her Spring Hill, Florida home. According to an offense report, authorities found the carcass of the animal-who had been killed either by strangling or by neck-breaking-on the woman's bed. The responding officer's interviews determined that the accused had threatened to kill the animal previously and that an order of protection for the woman had been issued. Hayes is scheduled to answer to these charges in court on April 5, at 8:30 a.m.

Hayes will face arraignment April 4, 2005 in Fifth Judicial Circuit Court, but his attorney said no plea would be entered at this time. He said he would ask Judge Richard Tombrink to set the case for next month after he announces to the court that the prosecution and the defense are working on a plea bargain.

Hayes was arrested in February after he turned himself into authorities. He faces charges of animal cruelty, burglary of a dwelling, violation of a domestic violence injunction, criminal mischief, burglary of a conveyance and injuring and removing a tomb and monument.

According to a Hernando County Sheriff's Report, Hayes was living in Spring Hill with his wife when he left the home to live with his ex-wife in November.

His wife filed an injunction for protection against domestic violence Nov. 12.

On Dec. 15, the woman was away on a business trip and a friend was feeding her cat, named Leni.

The friend came into the room and found Leni on the bed dead, the report said. Authorities say they found a burglary to the home had been committed. On Dec. 16, when the woman came home, she also found an urn containing her brother's remains missing.

Hayes later called his sister and told her to tell his wife not to drive her car because there was sugar in the gas tank, the report said. Detective Elizabeth Clifton wrote in a report that several witnesses made sworn statements that Hayes would "kill the cat" shortly before Leni was found dead.

On Dec. 20, Hayes gave the stolen urn to a pastor in Vermont, the affidavit says.

Brown said the defense is now awaiting test results. He also said there may be some evidentiary issues in the case.

Because the charge is a third-degree felony, Hayes could face up to five years in prison.

Case Updates

The judge didn't want to hear about the cat. County Judge Don Scaglione instead directed the attention back to what he called the real issue: domestic violence. He chastised the media, particularly the St. Petersburg Times, for making such a big deal of the cat's death. "This case is about domestic relations, not a cat case," he said as prosecutor Lisa Chittaro was about to call her first witness.

Joanne Schoch, director of the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, said that besides the cat's death, Mr. Hayes tormented his wife emotionally. She agreed with the judge that people are more important than animals, but she reminded him that many people see their pets as family members.
Hayes will also have to pay a $1,325 fine, $813.02 to his now ex-wife for the damage to her car and $100 to Wendy's parents for the cat's cremation. Scaglione ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service as long as the work isn't around animals, and Hayes is forbidden to have any pets until his probation is terminated 14 years from now.

Wendy Harvey had no comment after the hearing. Schoch said she understood why Scaglione was upset and she's happy with Hayes' sentencing. She said the laws about animal cruelty just need to get tougher.
Source: Hernando Today - March 23, 2006
Update posted on Mar 23, 2006 - 6:43PM 
After an argument with his wife in Spring Hill in December 2004, Daniel Hayes killed her cat, and urinated on the bed where he placed the animal.

Hernando County Judge Don Scaglione sentenced Hayes on Tuesday to two years in prison, two years of house arrest and 11 years of probation. He was facing up to 27 years in person, which is what Humane Society leaders were pushing for.

"There is a very strong link between animal abuse and domestic abuse," said local Humane Society leader Joanne Schoch. "We are still clarifying what that is. It is domestic terrorism. Animals are being used as weapons."

On Feb. 7, Hayes, 44, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of violating a domestic injunction and received concurrent one-year jail sentences. He also tendered an open plea to the other counts against him: burglary, criminal mischief, cruelty to animals and removing a tomb or a monument.
Source: Bay News 9 - March 21, 2006
Update posted on Mar 21, 2006 - 5:29PM 


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