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Cat Defender

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Holly Crawford Hits the Jackpot by Drawing a Judge Who Simply Adores Kitten Mutilators and Dope Addicts

"I couldn't have asked for more than that (no jail time) today, honestly!"
-- Holly Crawford

It is springtime and love is in the air but as far as Judge Tina Polachek Gartley of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Wilkes-Barre is concerned all of her love is reserved for a kitten mutilator and a dope addict. (See photo of her on the right.)

Cynics will perhaps scoff, but love at first sight does occur from time to time and the love bug surely must have given Gartley a big bite when she first laid eyes on thirty-five-year-old Holly Crawford of 71 Dobson Road in Sweet Valley, Pennsylvania. That is because on April 12th she let off the convicted kitten mutilator and purveyor of so-called Gothic kittens with a slap across the chops with a wet noodle.

That was in spite of the fact that she had been convicted by a jury on February 3rd of one count of summary animal cruelty and another count of misdemeanor animal cruelty and should have been sentenced to between six months and five years in jail. (See Cat Defender post of February 27, 2010 entitled "Sweet Valley Mutilator Is Convicted of Piercing the Ears, Necks, and Tails of Tiny Kittens That She Later Sold on eBay.")

Instead, Gartley sentenced her to six months of house arrest during which time she must wear an electronic monitor plus an additional twenty-one months of probation and evaluation. She additionally was ordered to shutter her profitable kitten mutilation factory and dog grooming business known as Pawside Parlor until she is released from probation.

Although she was allowed to retain custody of her three cats, one dog, and three snakes, Gartley mandated that she not acquire any more animals. At the urging of Deputy District Attorney David Pedri, she also was commanded to shut down her web site, www.gothickittens.net.

"I couldn't have asked for more than that today, honestly!" a triumphant Crawford gushed to the Times-Tribune of Scranton on April 13th. (See "Woman Convicted in 'Gothic Kitten' Case Receives House Arrest.") Truer words were never spoken. (See photo below of her striding out of court.)

Her attorney, Jeffrey Conrad, was equally ecstatic as well as totally unrepentant. "We're very pleased with the sentence," he told the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre on April 13th. (See "House Arrest in Kitten Case.") Crawford was only trying to "beautify" the kittens, he added.

Although he inexplicably termed Gartley's outlandishly lenient sentence as appropriate, Pedri vociferously disagreed with Conrad's characterization of Crawford's conduct. "Our office recognizes (sic) this was a crime and cruelty to animals from day one," he told the Times Leader in the article cited supra. "Twelve people in that jury box unanimously agreed."

Gartley's ruling is all the more ludicrous in light of the fact that Crawford is a career criminal. She has been arrested on at least seventeen prior occasions resulting in convictions for shoplifting, drunk driving, theft, and trafficking in heroin. She even stole guns from her own mother, Moya Linde.

Crawford told the court that she had been off of heroin for five years and that mutilating tiny kittens had helped her to kick the habit. Regardless of the veracity of that declaration, Gartley was suitably impressed and readily concurred that such patently cruel and inhumane behavior was an acceptable tradeoff and therefore of no consequence.

Considering all the pain and suffering that she has inflicted upon kittens, it would have been far better if Crawford had stuck with her beloved heroin. By now perhaps she would have overdosed and society would be shed of both her and her despicable crimes.

Besides, even if she is truly off of heroin that does not necessarily mean that she was not using other controlled substances and thus abusing kittens in order to finance her addiction. Even more troubling, if she still has an addiction problem there is a good chance that she will continue to commit offenses of one sort or another.

This case is on all fours with that of serial criminal offender Tracy A. Clark who on April 19th of last year used a box cutter in order to slice open a cat named Scatt at a homeless shelter in Seattle. The only difference between Crawford and Clark is that the former is a drug addict whereas the latter is an habitual drunkard.

In Clark's case, King County Superior Court Judge Michael C. Hayden let him off with an order that he spend his nights in the pokey for nine months; his days were to have been spent, for whatever good it might do, in alcohol rehabilitation. (See Cat Defender posts of May 6, 2009 and August 10, 2009 entitled, respectively, "Resident at a Church-Run Homeless Shelter in Seattle Uses a Box Cutter in Order to Gut Scatt from Collarbone to Tail" and "America's Insane Love Affair with Criminals Continues as Drunkard Who Sliced Open Scatt with a Box Cutter Gets Off with Time on the Water Wagon.")

Gross miscarriages of justice such as occurred in these cases raises the troubling question of just what would it take to convince some jurists to remove dangerous individuals from society? Presumably, for both Gartley and Hayden nothing short of two or three coldblooded murders would suffice.

Even more shockingly, there is absolutely nothing in press reports to indicate that either Gartley or Hayden ever expressed one iota of concern for the victims of these serial offenders and derelicts. Likewise, providing a measure of justice to the kittens and Scatt never seems to have entered into their warped gourds.

Im Gegenteil, all of their compassion and justice were lavished on these two losers. The only logical conclusion to be derived from Gartley's and Hayden's jaundiced jurisprudence is that since birds of a feather flock together they must be cut from the same piece of moldy cloth as Crawford and Clark. The only difference being that they successfully have clawed their way to the pinnacle of society's pecking order whereas their soul mates are still languishing around the bottom looking for a way up to the top.

There might have been some room for leniency if Crawford had apologized and pled guilty from the outset but that is far from what happened. On the contrary, she insisted throughout sixteen months of judicial wrangling that it was "neat" to mutilate kittens.

"She thought it was a great idea (to pierce kittens)," Carol Morrison of the SPCA of Luzerne County said shortly after Crawford's arrest.

Her only concern all along was with her pocketbook and reputation. "My name is ruined, my reputation is ruined, (and) my business is ruined," she whined in February of 2009.

Even after her conviction all of her concern was concentrated on her wallet. "If it's part of my sentence that I can't work with animals anymore, that's just completely devastating," she confessed.

On that point it is unclear if Gartley's order bars her completely from working with animals or just from operating Pawside Parlor. If the ban is total, Crawford then will be forced to find some other means, legal or illegal, of sustaining her plush lifestyle.

She obviously has money because she ran through three attorneys during the course of beating the rap. Demetrius Fannick handled the early pleadings while John Pike unsuccessfully tried the case before handing off the ball to Conrad to deal with the sentencing phase.

At trial she even was able to afford a veterinarian who ludicrously testified that the kittens were not harmed by the mutilations. The prosecution countered with Melinda Merck who not only spelled out the damage done to the kittens' hearing, balance, and jumping ability but also the pain inflicted during these barbaric procedures.

Throughout the lengthy proceedings Crawford was permitted not only to keep open Pawside Parlor but to continue to solicit donations for her defense on her web site. Presumably, the mutilations stopped after the raid but even that cannot be taken as an indisputable fact.

The closest that Crawford has come to uttering a syllable of contrition was when she was standing before Gartley awaiting sentencing. "I had no idea what I was doing was a crime," she is reported in the Times Leader as saying. "It was wrong, and I'll never do it again."

Of course, it goes without saying that a convict awaiting sentencing will say just about anything in order to alleviate either his or her punishment. Even "Juice" Simpson begged like a dog in a futile attempt to avoid incarceration after his conviction for sticking up a sports memorabilia peddler in Las Vegas. In Crawford's case, the proof is in the pudding and the authorities would be well advised to keep a close eye on her.

Furthermore, if making the punishment fit the crime is the gold standard when it comes to sentencing convicts, Crawford should have had her ears, neck, and tail pierced. A leash should have been threaded through the ring inserted her neck and she then should have been pulled and jerked all over town.

It would have been interesting to find out just how "neat" and painless she would have found that exercise. The same treatment likewise should have been meted out to her trio of highly-paid mouthpieces as well as to Gartley.

This case began on December 17, 2008 when agents of the SPCA of Luzerne County and the Pennsylvania State Police raided Pawside Parlor and seized at least three two-month-old black kittens that weighed between only two and three pounds. Their ears had been pierced and jewelry inserted. Their necks and docked tails likewise had been pierced and rings inserted.

The neck piercings were made in order to facilitate the insertion of leashes. Crawford was so cheap in fact that she used tightly-wound rubber bands in order to shorten the kittens' tails.

These so-called Gothic kittens then were later sold on both eBay and through her web site for up to $4,000 apiece. (See Cat Defender post of January 9, 2009 entitled "Pennsylvania Pet Groomer Is Caught Piercing the Ears, Necks, and Tails of Cats and Dogs and Then Peddling Them on eBay.")

Throughout this sordid get-rich-quick scheme, Crawford was assisted by her boyfriend, thirty-seven-year-old William Blansett of 188 Gordon Road in Sweet Valley. Since he apparently only assisted in marketing the kittens he was not charged in this case.

She also was aided by the press which did not even identify her until she was arraigned in February of 2009 and it waited until after she was sentenced before publishing any photographs of her. (See Cat Defender post of February 26, 2009 entitled "Dog Groomer Who Sold Mutilated Gothic Kittens on the Internet Is Finally Identified and Ordered to Stand Trial.")

As is the case with her lenient sentence, Crawford's kid gloves' treatment by the media was especially unfair when compared to the countless number of individuals who are charged with lesser offenses every day. Seldom if ever are they shielded by the media; au contraire, they mercilessly are skewered long before they are even given their day in court.

Although this case is now closed, many questions remain unanswered. First of all, how long had Crawford been mutilating kittens at Pawside Parlor and elsewhere? Secondly, how many victims were there and what has happened to them?

Equally disturbing, who buys Gothic kittens and how many more mutilators are there peddling them? After all, Crawford only was caught because she became greedy and did her dirty work online. Most likely there are numerous others like her who are mutilating cats and selling them surreptitiously.

Finally, at last report the trio of kittens seized from Pawside Parlor were still at the SPCA of Luzerne County where they ridiculously have been held as evidence. With the proceedings now at an end, hopefully the SPCA will make good on its pledge to find homes for them.

Photos: Facebook (Gartley) and Mark Moran of The Citizens' Voice of Wilkes-Barre (Crawford).