Grieving Owner Seeks Justice for Orange Tabby Named Bill That Was Hunted Down and Savagely Killed with a Bow and Arrow
"He said he shot it with arrows and it was stuck to the tree."
-- Deena Marie Thornton, witness for the prosecution
Forty-seven-year-old Robert Eugene Brunner of the San Diego suburb of Vista has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly killing his neighbor's three-year-old orange cat, Bill, with a bow and arrow. The metal arrows stuck the unsuspecting cat with such force that they pinned him to a tree.
The shooting occurred late on the night of April 11, 2006 when Brunner allegedly spotted Bill using his yard as an impromptu latrine. The cat was discovered the next morning with the arrows still in him by a ten-year-old boy from the neighborhood. Bill's owner, Janien Bubien, immediately took him to a veterinarian who performed emergency surgery on him but was unable to save him. Bill died two days later on April 14th of wounds to the neck and back. (See photo above.)
"This cat suffered horribly," prosecuting attorney Kate Flaherty told San Diego's Union-Tribune at the close of last week's preliminary hearing. (See "Man to Face Trial in Fatal Arrow Attack on Neighbor's Cat.")
Brunner has been charged with two counts of animal cruelty and could face up to fifty-six months in the can if convicted; a trial date will be set on August 20th. He has been held on a $75,000 bond ever since his arraignment back in June of this year when he pleaded not guilty.
At the hearing, prosecution witness Deena Marie Thornton told the court that Brunner admitted to her that he had murdered Bubien's beloved cat. "He said he shot it with arrows and it was stuck to the tree," she testified.
Pressed by Brunner's pro bono shyster, Cherie Brenner, Thornton conceded that she actually never saw either the cat or the tree, but she did see the defendant digging up a palm tree later that night.
There really is not much doubt about Brunner's guilt. In fact, he has already lost a civil suit filed by Bubien. In that case, he was ordered to pay her $2,500 for killing Bill and the presiding judge magnanimously tacked on an additional $5,000 so as to assist Bubien in relocating elsewhere.
Furthermore, Brunner fits the all-too-familiar profile of an animal abuser in that he has been previously convicted of domestic violence and was later jailed for violating the terms of his probation. Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman should throw the book at him; sociopaths such as him are not only beyond salvage but a threat to both humans and cats.
After her latest victory in court, a relieved Bubien is quoted in the August 7th edition of the Suddeutsche Zeitung as saying simply, "Ich bin so geruehrt, dass endlich jemand zuhoert." (See "Bill Killed.")
This tragic case is strikingly similar to the April 24, 2006 murder of a three-year-old black cat named Carmen in the affluent Bentivar subdivision just outside of Charlottesville. The only difference is that forty-six-year-old used car dealer George A. Seymour Jr. used a firearm to blow away Carmen after he allegedly spotted her on top of one of his old jalopies. (See Cat Defender post of June 22, 2006 entitled "Used Car Dealer in Virginia Murders Sweet Three-Year-Old Cat Named Carmen with Rifle Shot to the Neck.")
At a trial held on August 22nd of last year, Albemarle County Attorney Jim Camblos got Seymour to admit that he actually never had seen Carmen on top of any of his vehicles. This admission was buttressed by the testimony of Carmen's owner, Klaus Wintersteiger, who told the court, "Carmen did not jump up. She was too lazy and too fat." (See The Daily Progress of Charlottesville, August 22, 2006, "Man Sentenced to Jail for Shooting Cat.")
Nor did Camblos buy Seymour's claim that he thought that Carmen was a stray. "Mr. Seymour took it upon himself to shoot a cat that was clearly a companion animal," he told the court.
District Court Judge Steven Helvin found Seymour guilty of maliciously wounding Carmen but sentenced him inexplicably to only ten days in the stir and ordered him to perform an unspecified amount of community service.
Like Brunner, Seymour is another sociopath. Not only is he a former member of the National Rife Association (NRA) and an African safari hunter, but male members of his household have been known to use the sedate streets of Bentivar as a drag strip. He also showed himself at trial to be an inveterate liar.
The killing of Carmen, who already suffered from a heart murmur, has left Wintersteiger's two children, nine-year-old Nicholas and seven-year-old Isabella, devastated and they still have nightmares about the incident. (See photo above of Isabella with Carmen in happier days.)
Although there no doubt have been many more such fatalities, the mortal wounding of Bill with a bow and arrow is at least the third such case in recent memory to garner international attention. Back in 2005, a kitten named Archer from the Tampa suburb of Tarpon Springs luckily survived being shot with a metal and plastic arrow. (See Cat Defender post of August 25, 2005 entitled "Nine-Week-Old Kitten Named Archer Recovering After Being Shot with Crossbow Near Tampa.")
During the closing days of July of this year, an unidentified cat from Miami Township in Montgomery County, Ohio was not nearly so lucky when he was shot in the leg with a wooden arrow. (See Cat Defender post of August 2, 2007 entitled "Ohio Cat Shot in the Leg with an Arrow Is Forced to Endure a Long-Drawn Out and Excruciating Death.")
Although additional governmental scrutiny will not necessarily deter wicked individuals from committing deadly acts, serial numbers could be encrypted on arrows and then entered into a computer database. That would at least be of some assistance to law enforcement personnel in apprehending murderers who use bows and arrows as their weapon of choice.
On a more mundane level, cats peeing in yards and jumping on cars are very trivial matters and anyone who turns violent over such incidents is not merely an ailurophobe but a sociopath as well. Birds and mice leave behind considerably more excrement than do cats and they also spread deadly diseases.
Coyotes, fishers, raccoons, and other wild animals also leave behind excrement in addition to killing cats and occasionally attacking dogs, children, and adults. (See Cat Defender post of July 19, 2007 entitled "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers.") Noise pollution and auto emissions are also far greater quality of life issues than cat urine.
Nevertheless, no one shoots birds for defecating on their heads, dogs for barking at them, or motorists for giving them lung cancer. If the only thing a bloke has to worry about is a little cat urine in his yard, he is indeed a fortunate fellow.
Having said all of that, it is in the best interests of cat owners to be respectful of the wishes of their neighbors because failure to do so could lead to their cats being tragically killed. There is no evidence, however, that either Brunner or Seymour at any time ever directed Bubien or Wintersteiger to keep their cats at home.
Of course, both assailants could have used water pistols in order to have kept Bill and Carmen off of their precious turf but that would have deprived them of the sadistic thrill that they get from abusing and killing cats.
On a much broader societal level, it is becoming increasingly difficult for cat owners to live side-by-side with ailurophobes, bird advocates, and wildlife proponents. One possible solution would be to amend existing zoning laws so that cat owners could live together in one section of town and their sworn enemies in another.
That probably would not work, however, because individuals and groups who kill and abuse cats most likely would just divert their homicidal rages in the direction of dogs and other small animals. As for bird lovers and wildlife proponents, it goes without saying that without cats to defame and kill they would no longer have a raison d'etre.
Although the Wintersteigers are staying put, Bubien is doing the intelligent thing by relocating. Hopefully, whenever Brunner gets out jail his new neighbors will be either members of the Medellin drug cartel, the Bloods, or the Crips.
It would be interesting to see just how tough he really is when it comes to dealing with someone who is capable of defending himself. The use of violence in order to get one's way, like every other modus operandi, has its limitations.
Photos: KGTV-Channel 10, San Diego (Bill) and Jen Fariello of The Hook (Carmen and Isabella.)