Joseph Petcka, on trial for animal cruelty after fatally beating his girlfriend's cat, claimed self-defense, saying the 7 pound cat attacked him during his testimony. He told the jury, "He was coming at my legs." Keep in mind that Petcka is 205 pounds and 6'2".
Petcka and Lisa Altobelli had gotten into a fight last year, with Petcka yelling, "You love that cat more than me." Altobelli fled the apartment after Petcka allegedly grabbed her neck. When she returned, she found Norman under a bedside table, dead with "a broken leg, three broken ribs, broken teeth, and a lacerated tongue," not to mention blood in his lungs. On the stand, Petcka said Norman the orange domestic bit his hand and then the cat lunged at him, "His arms were outstretched. And his teeth were bared, and he came at me in one fell swoop."
So Petcka swiped at Norman with his hand, and then kicked the cat with his metal-toed motorcycle boots (also keep in mind that Norman was declawed). From the Post:
"I swung my hand up when he bit into my thumb, and then I threw back - to get my face and neck out of the way - because I didn't know if he was going to jump."
"And then I started to kick my legs like a bicycle."
Petcka reportedly wasn't sure how many times Norman was kicked, and the Daily News reports the defendant said the cat was "walking and seemed uninjured" afterwards. The ASPCA's animal cruelty inspector Dr. Robert Reisman said that the force with which Norman had been kicked was like a soccer player kicking a ball towards a goal. He added, "The easiest way to cause those injuries would be to control the cat and hit his face on a hard surface...This was not pushing it away."
Petcka did admit it was "A bad, violent reaction." The jury must find that there was no justifiable reason for the violence to convict him of felony animal cruelty, which is punishable for up to two years in prison. Closing arguments are expected on Monday.