Ernst K. Walks Away Smelling Like a Rose as Both the Prosecutor and Judge Turn His Trial for Killing Rocco into a Lovefest for a Sadistic Cat Killer
"Das Urteil entsprach in keiner Weise dem was tatsächlich am Weihnachtstag des Jahres 2010 in dem Garten des Einfamilienhauses des Rentners geschehen ist."
-- Judith Brettmeister of Aktion Tier
When press reports first began to filter out of München in late December of last year detailing how amateur ornithologist Ernst Bernhard K. had kidnapped Rocco and tortured him to death with water and pepper spray it already was foregone conclusion that this tale of horrific feline abuse never could have anything remotely resembling a happy ending. (See photos of Ernst K. above and below.)
Thanks to the perseverance of his aggrieved owner, Andreas O., and the hard work of the dedicated professionals at Tierschutzverein (TSV) München, it nevertheless was hoped that even in death Rocco might yet still receive a small measure of justice through the conviction and incarceration of his murderer. All of those hopes went up in smoke in a München courtroom on August 9th when state prosecutor Beate Miksch and presiding judge Gerhard Simon sided wholeheartedly with Ernst K. and set him as free as the blackbirds and finches that frolic in his yard in the Moosach section of town.
The particulars, boiled down to what little they are worth, amounted to a ten-month suspended sentence and three years of probation. He additionally was fined an insignificant €1,500 which is to be paid to TSV München.
Simon's thoroughly ludicrous verdict was received with indignation and disbelief by the more than one-hundred supporters of Rocco who had packed the courtroom. Shouts of "Morder" and "Falsch" rang out from the gallery.
Since Miksch only had originally asked for a year's suspended sentence and a fine of €1,500, it is quite obvious that the fix was in from the outset. In fact, since Ernst K. already had pleaded guilty it now appears in hindsight that the two-day public spectacle was staged by Miksch and Simon merely as a show trial with a wicked Evelyn Waugh twist thrown in at the end. Whereas show trials usually are staged in order to unjustly convict the innocent, in this case the objective was to exonerate a cold-blooded cat killer.
A secondary motivation no doubt was to further torment Andreas O., his family, and all cat owners in München. After all, there can be little doubt that the defendant gladly would have relinquished his right to a public trial in exchange for such a sweetheart deal.
As if turning this diabolical monster scot-free were not outrageous enough in its own right, Miksch and Simon did not even have the bons sens to stop there. Rather, they joined forces in order to stage what can only can be labeled as a carefully choreographed lovefest for Ernst K. whereby they doused him with buckets of sympathy because he allegedly is ill and has an invalid spouse. (See Der Spiegel, August 9, 2011, "Bewährungsstrafe für den Katzenhasser.")
First of all, although Ernst K. may indeed be old, he appears to be robust and as healthy as a horse. More importantly, he certainly was healthy enough to trap Rocco and to systematically torture him to death over an extended eleven-day period. (See Cat Defender posts of January 19, 2011 and June 20, 2011 entitled, respectively, "Bird Lover in München Illegally Traps Rocco and Then Methodically Tortures Him to Death with Water and Pepper Spray over an Eleven-Day Period" and "Rocco's Abduction, Systematic Torture, and Cold-Blooded Murder by a Bird Lover in München Was the Number One Cat Story of 2010.")
Secondly, if his wife was living at home in December she sans doute must have heard Rocco's anguished screams just as her neighbors did who live down the street. In that case, she was complicit in her husband's crimes and should have been indicted and forced to stand trial alongside him.
Besides, all legal defenses based upon old age, youth, poor health, and mental incompetence are spurious. The victims of such offenders, whether they be animals or humans, are every bit just as dead as if they had been attacked by physically and mentally competent individuals of medium age.
Miksch and Simon also made much ado about how poor, old Ernst K. had been subjected to a hate campaign since killing Rocco and the defendant himself even claimed to have received a letter threatening his life during the two-day trial. Miksch, for example, labeled the verbal barbs "unerträglich" and a "Hetzkampagne" whereas Simon admitted that they had worked "zu Gunsten des Angeklagten."
Ernst K.'s high-powered shyster, Boris Kampf, even got in on the act by whining to the München Abendzeiting on August 10th that his client had been forced to live "in Angst um sich und seine Familie." (See "Bewährung für Katzenhasser: Mildes Urteil für den Katzenhasser.")
Leaving aside for the time being the petit fait that prosecutors and judges are supposed to rely upon the facts of a case and not the clamoring of the public, it thus would appear to be the considered opinion of both Miksch and Simon that Andreas O. and his supporters either should have been grateful to Ernst K. for killing Rocco or not to have given a hang one way or the other. Also, it is nothing short of amazing that neither of them seem to realize that there are significant differences between the Bundesrepublik and the Third Reich and that chiefly among them are the rights to free speech, peaceable assembly, and to petition the government for the redress of grievances.
More pertinently, both of them have conveniently forgotten that it was Ernst K. who festooned his property with placards accusing Rocco's supports of hating birds. Plus, either he or one of his supporters posted signs throughout the neighborhood threatening to torture and kill additional cats in the same manner as Rocco.
To top it all off, Simon opened his big trap once again in order to declare that he did not believe that Ernst K. would kill another cat. That is in direct contradiction to what the defendant vowed to arresting officers.
Eight additional cats have mysteriously disappeared from in and around Ernst K.'s house and he is the number one suspect in each case. Dogs also have been poisoned and shot with air guns.
The job of any state prosecutor is to advocate for both the law and the victims of crime, not to side with murderers. Likewise, any judge that is fit to serve on the bench must rely upon the facts and not his own ingrained prejudices when dispensing justice. Since Miksch and Simon have failed miserably to carry out their duties they therefore have disgraced both themselves and their offices.
In this case, Miksch and Simon have inexcusably transformed sadistic cat killer Ernst K. into the victim and cast his owner and supporters as the villains. In their carefully scripted black comedy there is, as planned, no place for either Rocco or justice. (See photo of him directly below.)
"Tut mir leid, das Ganze," Ernst K. told the München Abendzeitung in the article cited supra. No one in town believed a syllable of his insincere apology according the newspaper's court reporter John Schneider.
Other courtroom observers have pointed out that Ernst K. was hard pressed to refrain from grinning during expert testimony detailing how horribly he had abused Rocco. In fact, the sunglasses that he wore throughout the trial were so inadequate that he was forced to cover his face with his hands in order to conceal his mirth.
If that is so, the old boy must be really whooping it up now in the aftermath of his stunning victory. Perhaps even Miksch and Simon are sharing a stein or two of München's fine bier with him in celebration.
Most startling of all, there is absolutely nothing in press reports to indicate that either Miksch or Simon uttered so much as a word of sympathy for either Rocco or Andreas O. and his family. If fact, the prosecution and adjudication of this case from the outset was so biased and one-sided that both the judge and prosecutor should have been sporting campaign buttons on their robes and lapels that declared "All the Way with Ernst K!" As it was, the only thing that they neglected to do was to pass the hat for the accused.
Miksch's and Simon's outrageous conduct is tantamount to the legal establishment treating a convicted rapist as a conquering hero all the while simultaneously turning a blind eye to the suffering of his victim. It also is a pretty good indication that both of them are inveterate cat haters and possibly even bird enthusiasts.
That is because even remotely fair-minded prosecutors and jurists who care absolutely nothing about cats are yet still able to tell the difference between right and wrong and thus to apply the law accordingly. On a more basic level, it is simply reprehensible that they have condoned the theft, torture, and murder of a totally innocent cat.
By way of contrast, fifty-five-year-old Hannelore Schmedes of Mahlum in Bockenem, thirty kilometers southeast of Hannover in Niedersachsen, was sentenced late last year to serve thirty-five days in jail for shoplifting less than €100 of food in order to feed her twelve starving cats. (See Cat Defender post of February 12, 2011 entitled "Disabled Former Casino Worker Is Sent to Jail for Shoplifting Food in Order to Feed Her Twelve Cats.")
It thus would appear that in Deutschland stealing to feed starving cats will get an individual locked up whereas stealing and murdering one is perfectly acceptable behavior that is lauded to the high heavens by prosecutors and judges. With the legal establishment operating upon such an abhorrent and totally inhumane jurisprudence, no cat any longer can count on either its next breath or meal.
The only recourse left open to Andreas O. and other cat lovers in München would be to look into having both Miksch and Simon removed from office. Depending upon existing local law, impeachment, voter recall, and removal via the ballot box at the next election are possible options. If it is at all humanly possible, no-good, rotten scoundrels like Miksch and Simon should not be allowed to get away with sanctioning the torture and killing of a cat by an amateur ornithologist.
As for Andreas O., his wife Nicole, their daughter, and dog, they received absolutely nothing from Landgericht München except humiliation and the pungent aftertaste of injustice. Worst of all, Simon has cruelly denied them their last remaining opportunity for some sort of closure.
The only satisfaction that they have received came on July 11th when an unidentified civil court judge ordered Ernst K. to pay Andreas O. €500 for killing Rocco. The judge additionally issued a cease and desist order prohibiting Ernst K. from trapping and killing any more of Andreas's animals. (See Cat Defender post of August 8, 2011, entitled "Ernst K.'s Trial for Kidnapping, Torturing, and Murdering Rocco Nears Its Climax in a München Courtroom.")
The civil and criminal wrangling may have concluded, but this sorry and disturbing affair is anything but forgotten history. In particular, since Andreas and his family reside only one-hundred-fifty meters from Ernst K. they are going to be forced to deal with him until he either croaks or they decide to relocate elsewhere.
Seeing him every day happily feeding his birds and going on with his miserable existence while Rocco is rotting in his grave will become a festering sore within their already badly mutilated psyches and for which there cannot be any cure. That is the living Hell that Andrea Evans and her family in Granite Falls, North Carolina, have been put through ever since their next-door neighbor, State Trooper Shawn C. Houston, illegally trapped and shot to death their five-month-old kitten, Rowdy, in October of 2009.
At trial, Houston escaped conviction and was forced to pay only $125 in court costs. (See Cat Defender post of July 8, 2010 entitled "North Carolina State Trooper Who Illegally Trapped and Shot His Next-Door Neighbor's Cat, Rowdy, Is Now Crying for His Job Back.")
In marked distinction to Miksch's and Simon's appalling misconduct, San Diego County Prosecutor Katharine Flaherty and Superior Court Judge K. Michael Kirkman put forty-seven-year-old Robert Eugene Brunner of nearby Vista in jail for three years on September 17, 2007 after he earlier had shot and killed Janeen Bubien's cat, Bill, with a bow and arrow. In that case, poor Bill was not accused of killing birds but rather of pissing in Brunner's precious little yard.
In an earlier civil suit, Bubien was awarded $2,500 in damages plus $5,000 in order to help her relocate elsewhere and away from Brunner. (See Cat Defender posts of August 14, 2007 and September 24, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Grieving Owner Seeks Justice for Orange Tabby Named Bill That Was Hunted Down and Savagely Killed with a Bow and Arrow" and "California Man Who Slew His Neighbor's Cat with a Bow and Arrow Is Sentenced to Three Years in Jail.")
In addition to their grotesque failure to provide a measure of justice to Rocco and Andreas O., Miksch and Simon also are guilty of not only failing to address the consequences of turning loose a convicted cat killer amongst his victims but of steadfastly refusing to act in order to protect all other cats as well. Simon's irresponsible, unjust, and totally brainless ruling can only be read as a blueprint for additional trouble and suffering that in all likelihood will wind up costing the lives of additional cats.
Although TSV München conspicuously has not commented on Miksch's and Simon's dirty work, reaction from other animal rights groups in Deutschland has been for the most part predictably favorable. "Wichtig ist dass hier ein deutliches Zeichen gesetzt wurde: Tierquälerei ist kein Kavaliersdelikt," Katharina Schulze of Grüne München ludicrously postulated August 9th on the organization's web site. (See "Münchner Grüne begrüßen Urteil im Tierquäler Prozess.") "Wir begrüßen, dass die Ahndung des Verbrechens vor einem ordentlichen Gericht stattgefunden hat, denn Selbstjustiz ist kein sinnvoller Weg."
She, quite obviously, either has been sipping on the same sour grape as Miksch and Simon or has a grotesquely stunted sense of justice. Contrary to her sottise, this case demonstrates conclusively that, at least in München, birders can steal, torture, and kill cats not only with impunity but the blessings of both the state prosecutor and presiding judge. (See photo of her above on the left.)
Furthermore, unless prosecutors and judges in München do an abrupt about-face and for once start taking crimes committed against cats seriously, cat owners are going to be forced into responding one way or another. She also has her causality all wrong in that it is precisely the legal establishment's dereliction of duty that forces aggrieved individuals to take to the street in protest.
Like Miksch and Simon, she has the audacity to label Rocco's peaceful supporters as vigilantes. Nothing could be further from the truth in that none of them have broken any laws, unless Schulze considers the exercise of free speech to be a crime. Moreover, her wholehearted support for Simon's insane ruling coupled with her condemnation of what she calls vigilanteism amounts to little more than a blanket endorsement of Ernst K.'s criminality so long as it is blessed with the judiciary's stamp of approval.
In this particular case, the only real punishment meted out to Ernst K. came in the form of the public censure that he received from his enraged neighbors. If at anytime he felt threatened that was due entirely to the fact that he is a criminal who perpetrated a despicable act of animal cruelty.
As per usual, phony-baloney PETA was jolly on hand to put in its two cents' worth. "Eine Bewährungsstrafe ist natürlich auf den ersten Blick viel zu milde, bedenkt man, dass es hier um ein Tierleben ging, welches auf grausame Art und Weise und vorsätzlich beendet wurde," Edmund Haferbeck conceded August 9th on the organization's web site. (See "Statement von PETA zur Verurteiling des Katzenmörders Ernst K. aus Moosach.") "Jedoch ist die Strafe im Vergleich zu ähnlichen Tierqualerei-Vergehen hoch ausgefallen."
If the victim had been any other animal except a cat it is extremely doubtful that PETA would have been nearly so equivocal. Nonetheless, for an organization that systematically exterminates ninety-eight per cent of the cats and dogs that it impounds at its Norfolk, Virginia, shelter and fervently advocates for the en masse slaughter of all homeless cats, Haferbeck's comments are merely par for the course. (See Cat Defender posts of January 29, 2007 and February 9, 2007 entitled, respectively, "PETA's Long History of Killing Cats and Dogs Is Finally Exposed in a North Carolina Courtroom" and "Verdict in PETA Trial: Littering Is a Crime but Not the Mass Slaughter of Innocent Cats and Dogs.")
Haferbeck concludes by endorsing Schulze's zany viewpoint that the decision in this case demonstrates that animal cruelty is no longer a "Kavaliersdelikt" in Deutschland. He does, however, point out that a three-year prison term for animal cruelty never has been imposed by German jurists.
The only animal rights activist in Deutschland to come forward so far who has not been bamboozled by Simon's and Miksch's sophistry is Judith Brettmeister of Aktion Tier who correctly has labeled the verdict as a mockery and a horror for all animals. (See photo of her directly above.)
"Das Urteil entsprach in keiner Weise dem was tatsächlich am Weihnachtstag des Jahres 2010 in dem Garten des Einfamilienhauses des Rentners geschehen ist," she stated August 9th on her organization's web site. (See "Aktion Tier entsetzt über Urteil für den Katzenquäler.")
"Dort wurde ein Tier eingesperrt und qualvoll zu Tode gequält -- und dies über die entsetzliche lange Zeit von fünfzehn Minuten," she continued. "Was muss eigentlich noch an Qualen einem Tier, an erheblichen Schmerzen oder fruchtbaren Leiden zugefügt werden, damit ein Gericht das im Tierschutzgesetz vorgesehene Strafmaß in Gänze ausschöpft."
She also is acutely aware of Ernst K.'s total lack of contrition and the injustice of setting him free after what he did to Rocco. "Der Rentner zeigte während der zwei Prozesstage weder Reue noch Einsicht obwohl seine Tat an Rohheit und Grausamkeit kaum zu überbieten war," she noted. "Jetzt geht es für den Rentner nur noch darum in den nächsten Jahren strafrechtlich nicht mehr aufzufallen. Er kann sich beruhigt in seinem Einfamilienhaus zürucklehnen und weiter seine Vögel beobachten."
Not only that but Ernst K. will be able to relive over and over again in his diseased mind the infinite pleasure that he derived from torturing Rocco to death. If he had been a few years younger he no doubt would have videotaped his evil deed for future enjoyment.
It will not be nearly as easy for Andreas O. to put behind him the brutal murder of the beloved cat that he bought at the tender age of eight-weeks-old as a wedding present for Nicole. On top of that colossal loss, he and his family now must learn to live with the gross injustice visited upon them last week by Simon and Miksch.
That is going to be extremely difficult if not entirely impossible. Moreover, he has to be vigilant so as to ensure than Ernst K. does not harm either his dog or any new cats that he may be tempted to bring home. Ernst K. has killed before and gotten away with doing so and it therefore is highly unlikely that the €250,000 penalty hanging over him as the result of a civil court mandated cease and desist order will be much of a deterrent to such an inveterate cat-hater.
(The day will come when) "all the forms of life...will stand before the court -- the pileated woodpecker as well as the coyotes and bear, the lemmings as well as the trout in the stream," former United States Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas once predicted. The events in München last week have shown that his dream remains as elusive as ever.
Photos: Nürnberger Nachrichten via Deutsche Presse-Agentur (Ernst K. with hands over his face), Focus Magazin (Ernst K. in sunglasses), Dorfener Anzeiger (Rocco), Grüne München (Schulze), and Tierportal München (Brettmeister).