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Don’t Let Malicious Cat Killing Maintenance Worker Walk Free

Don’t Let Malicious Cat Killing Maintenance Worker Walk Free

This alert is no longer active, but here for reference. Animals still need your help.

Even though Mississippi updated its animal protection law last year to better protect animal companions, a beloved cat named Koji was brutally tortured by a maintenance worker in his own home. He has yet to get justice because of a clerical error. The Hattiesburg Police Department had not yet updated its system with the amended and new laws. When the system was updated, including the Dog and Cat Pet Protection Law of 2011, the prosecutor still decided to prosecute the crime as a misdemeanor. This law was amended in 2020 to make cruelty to dogs and cats a first-offense felony, and to allow for charges to be filed for each animal who is harmed. Join us in urging representatives of the court and police to take this case seriously and prosecute Koji's case as a felony.

On February 25, 2021, Elliot Berthelot came home to the stench of feces. As he called Koji, his cat, he saw tufts of fur, bloody feces, knickknacks knocked over, and a trail of urine and blood that led to Koji, who was bleeding from every orifice and gasping for air, while one of his legs dangled in ruin.

Berthelot quickly recorded essential evidence, rushed to get Koji emergency veterinary treatment and called the police on the way.

Tragically, Koji was too seriously injured and did not survive. Two police officers responded and filed a report in which Berthelot explained how he had arranged for his sink to be serviced. The locks to his residence were recently changed, so only he, the property manager, and the maintenance worker had access to his unit. Koji could not have gotten out unless the maintenance person accidentally let Koji outside and he would not likely have gotten him back in. The evidence inside of the residence cruelly detailed Koji's fight for his life inside what he thought was his haven.

The property manager supplied the name of the maintenance worker who entered Berthelot's residence, a Mr. Michael Tolito. Tolito has been fired but has yet to be prosecuted because of this filing error. Even when the system was updated, the prosecutor still decided to prosecute the crime as a misdemeanor, instead of a felony.

In Defense of Animals is working with Prosecutor Steven Adamson to see this prosecuted as a felony. Shockingly, he has stated that the Hattiesburg detectives will not agree to investigating this crime as a felony and that the district attorney will knock the charge back to a misdemeanor. Tolito is due in court on April 30, and we're pushing to see Koji's case taken seriously by both the police and the court.

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This alert is no longer active, but here for reference. Animals still need your help.

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