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CONVICTED: Was justice served?
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Tuesday, Apr 12, 2005County: Oneida
Defendant/Suspect: Sebastian K. Dicesare
Case Updates: 4 update(s) available
On the afternoon of April 12, between 4 and 5 p.m., a man walked into the Stevens-Swan Humane Society on Horatio Street in the town of Deerfield. He inquired at the front desk about a calico cat and was taken to the society's cat room to see what they had to offer.
"He inquired about a specific cat," said Humane Investigator Kevin Thompson. "Which suggests he had been here before."
As it was the society's busiest time of day, the staff had other things to do and left the man in the cat room to attend to other matters, never suspecting any of their animals were in danger.
A few minutes later, the man left quickly. He was asked to stop, but he ignored the request and quickened his pace out the door, raising suspicion among workers. Executive Director Becky Lynn Warner followed the man outside and copied down his license plate number. Meanwhile some employees went to the cat room and discovered that Stephanie, a calico, was missing. The Oneida County Sheriff's Department was immediately called.
Deputy Craig Stockhauser responded to the call. By looking up the license plate, Stockhauser was able to track down the man, who is a Utica resident, and retrieve the stolen cat.
Within a few hours of the theft, Stephanie was back with staff at Steven Swan Humane Society, but she was not doing well.
"She died within minutes," Thompson said.
The cat had visible external injuries and assumed internal injuries as well.
"It appears to be a brutal beating death," Thompson described. "Her injuries suggest she was kicked repeatedly or thrown against something."
The man who stole Stephanie claimed the cat had fallen.
"There is no way, given the extent of her injuries, that she just fell," Thompson said.
The man was placed under arrest and charged with larceny for stealing the cat for which he has been issues an appearance ticket. Additional charges are pending as the investigation is ongoing, Stockhauser said.
"We're hoping for animal cruelty charges as well," Thompson said.
Because the torture and killing of Stephanie was apparently intentional, any animal cruelty charges that follow could be felonies, he said.
Upon reviewing surveillance tapes of the humane society, staff and sheriffs saw what happened. While in the cat room, the man waited for staff and other people to leave the room. He then took Stephanie from her cage, stuffed her under his coat, and left.
"Obviously this person was determined," Thompson said. "He knew right where to go and he waited patiently for his chance."
|An Oneida County Court judge revoked the bail on Sept 18 for the man who admitted to stealing a cat from a local animal shelter and causing its death.|
Sebastian DiCesare, 24, of Watkins Avenue, was sent back to jail by Judge Michael A. Dwyer after appearing in court this morning. Dwyer revoked DiCesare's bail after police said they received a tip DiCesare recently purchased a cat from a local pet store.
Dicesare pleaded guilty Feb. 14 in Oneida County Court to felony aggravated cruelty to animals, admitting he killed a cat he had stolen April 12, 2005, from the Stevens-Swan Humane Society. Under terms of a plea agreement, Dicesare was to be sentenced to five years' probation, with no more than six months of that time spent in the Oneida County jail. Sentencing has been postponed several times, however, as Dicesare undergoes treatment for mental illness and drug addiction.
DiCesare admitted to purchasing the cat, but said someone had given him the money to buy the animal and that he had given the cat to that person. Prosecutors said they will check on the wellbeing of the cat and determine if it is with another person, but Dwyer said it was an error in judgment and that DiCesare should not have contact with any animal.
"I didn't know I was breaking any law," DiCesare said in court. "I apologize."
Dwyer said the apology came "too late," and ordered DiCesare sent to the Oneida County jail.
As DiCesare was being led from the courtroom, he yelled, "What did I do? What did I do? All I did was pick it up."
|Source: UticaOD - Sept 18, 2006|
Update posted on Nov 3, 2006 - 11:21PM
|The city man who admitted to stealing a cat from a local animal shelter then causing its death was sentenced on Oct 6 to up to six months in jail.|
Oneida County Court Judge Michael L. Dwyer also sentenced Sebastian Dicesare, 24, of Watkins Avenue, to five years' probation.
DiCesare pleaded guilty in February to felony aggravated cruelty to animals after he admitted fatally injuring a cat he stole from the Stevens-Swan Humane Society in April 2005.
Dwyer repeatedly postponed sentencing so Dicesare could be treated for mental illness and drug addiction, but revoked DiCesare's bail in September after he was alerted Dicesare had recently purchased a cat for someone.
Dwyer said DiCesare can continue his treatment while he is in jail, and probation officials will monitor that treatment after Dicesare is released.
|Source: UticaOD - Oct 6, 2006|
Update posted on Oct 8, 2006 - 1:38PM
|After admitting he caused the death of a cat he stole from an animal shelter in April 2005, a city man will be given the opportunity to be treated for mental illness and drug abuse. Sebastian Dicesare, 23, of Watkins Avenue, was to go on trial in Oneida County Court next month, but he instead pleaded guilty on February 14, 2006 to felony aggravated cruelty to animals. |
Dicesare faced up to two years in prison if he was convicted after trial, but by pleading guilty, Dicesare was promised five years probation, with no more than six months of that time spent in the Oneida County jail. Dicesare said he wanted to plead guilty to avoid going to prison and to get treatment. "I need it and I want it," Dicesare said. "If he went to trial and got convicted, that would completely disrupt his treatment," said Mark Wolber, Dicesare's attorney. Wolber said Dicesare realized there was a great likelihood he would be found guilty. Though Dicesare is due to be sentenced in April 2006, Judge Michael L. Dwyer said he could postpone Dicesare's sentencing so Dicesare could receive ongoing treatment for mental illness and drug abuse.
"I just don't want you to think that because you're getting treatment, everything will go away," Dwyer said. "It is not going to happen. There needs to be punishment." Wolber said Dicesare had a serious mental illness since he was in Marine Corps, and was discharged because of that illness. "People who have mental illnesses deserve sympathy, just as you'd have for somebody who has a physical disability," Wolber said. One animal supporter among several in the courtroom, however, was doubtful of Dicesare's chance to be successfully treated. "You can't rehabilitate somebody like that," Patti Kozien of Whitesboro said outside the courtroom. "Once you're an abuser, you're an abuser for life." Assistant District Attorney Stacey Paolozzi, who prosecuted the case, recognized that some people wanted to see Dicesare put in prison "forever," while others wanted to see him receive treatment. But according to the law, Paolozzi said, the court would not have been able to impose mandatory treatment if Dicesare received the maximum sentence. "The district attorney's office always felt a split sentence was appropriate because it gave punishment and an ability to rehabilitate himself," Paolozzi said. Dicesare was in the midst of a pre-trial hearing on his oral statements to Oneida County sheriff's deputies when he decided to plead guilty. Dicesare told Dwyer he went into the Stevens-Swan Humane Society on Horatio Street on April 12, 2006 to get a cat for his girlfriend. Dicesare hid the cat under his jacket, but when he got home, the cat started to get "feisty," he said. "I could tell it didn't want to be there. It was scared," Dicesare said. After the cat scratched and bit him, Dicesare said he threw the cat and its head hit an entertainment center in his bedroom. A sheriff's deputy testified earlier that when Dicesare showed him the cat after being arrested that evening, it was gasping for air and discharge was coming from his nose.
"That's the only thing I did to the cat," Dicesare said. "I did not intentionally try to hurt this animal."
In court, Dicesare appeared to be "heavily sedated" from medications, Wolber said. At times, Dicesare was nodding off and had to be awakened after he started to snore. But after a lunch break, Dicesare was more clear-headed and said he wanted to plead guilty. "I just wanted to get this over with," Wolber recalled Dicesare saying. Though Dicesare's actions did not appear to be "calculated" acts of torture, Wolber said animal supporters are justified in their passion against animal abuse. "It's certainly not something that should go unnoticed or unpunished," Wolber said.
|Source: Observer Dispatch - February 15, 2006|
Update posted on Feb 25, 2006 - 12:31PM
|A Utica man charged with beating to death a cat he is accused of stealing from a Deerfield animal shelter in April rejected a plea offer in Oneida County Court.|
Prosecutors offered Sebastian Dicesare, 23, of Watkins Avenue, up to six months in Oneida County jail and five years' probation if he admitted guilt. Dicesare, however, turned down the offer and will instead take his case to trial.
Dicesare is charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and petit larceny. He is accused of stealing the cat on April 12 from the Stevens-Swan Humane Society on Horatio Street and taking it to Dicesare's home. There police said he caused multiple injuries that later resulted in the cat's death.
If convicted of animal cruelty after trial, Dicesare could face a maximum of two years in state prison.
|Source: Observer-Dispatch (Utica, NY) - October 21, 2005|
Update posted on Nov 14, 2005 - 11:22PM
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