Cat killer appealing conviction

Cat killer appealing conviction

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A St. Charles, Minn., man and his Winona attorney are challenging whether Minnesota's felony animal abuse law requires a defendant to know the victim was a "pet or companion animal."

Ajalon Thomas Corcoran, 25, admitted in June he killed a cat with an arrow. The plea agreement Corcoran and his attorney, J.P. Plachecki, reached with prosecutors called for Corcoran to plead guilty to misdemeanor mistreatment of animals.

But Judge Jeff Thompson ignored the plea agreement, convicting Corcoran of felony mistreatment of animals.

The statute for the mistreatment of animals carries a misdemeanor penalty unless the animal was a "companion animal" or pet, in which case the crime would be a felony. At issue is whether the law required Corcoran to know the cat was a pet.

Corcoran has repeatedly said he didn't know the cat was someone's pet when he shot it in his backyard Sept. 17, 2007. The cat had been eating birds and was creating a health hazard by "doing its business" in his garden, he said. Police say he made several attempts to trap the cat before he shot it with a bow and arrow.

Plachecki contends the statute requires the prosecution prove Corcoran knew at the time of the incident that the cat was a pet for him to be convicted of a felony. But Thompson ruled it didn't matter if Corcoran knew the cat was a pet or not, because Corcoran intended to shoot the cat and that shooting resulted in the death of a pet.

Thompson said in June his ruling is open to interpretation by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and notice to appeal was filed in November. Briefs had not been filed in the case as of Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, two other Winona men say they'll appeal unrelated Winona County District Court convictions.

Charles David Sackett, 26, filed Jan. 25 a notice to appeal eight convictions, including second-degree burglary.

Sackett's case stems from a Jan. 2, 2009, incident, when police and prosecutors said he forced himself into a Winona apartment, broke furniture, damaged a door with a knife and prevented a woman from leaving. Prosecutors presented evidence during the trial that he drove to the apartment despite a court order barring him from contacting the woman. Sackett grabbed the woman by the hair and dragged her into the apartment, broke a chair, picked up a knife and stabbed a door as he cornered the woman, court records show.

Sackett was sentenced in October to more than five years in prison.

Corry Eugene Burt, 46, is challenging his September terroristic threats conviction, filing Jan. 29 a notice to appeal.

Burt's conviction stems from threats to kill NAPA Auto Parts employees police say he made on March 4, 2008.

According to the criminal complaint, Winona police met on March 4, 2008, with the NAPA store's owner, who reported Burt had been there the morning before and threatened to kill his employees. Officers spoke to Burt two days later, and he denied threatening the store's employees.

Burt was ordered to spend five years on probation and 90 days of electronic-home monitoring at his November sentencing, where he vowed to appeal his conviction.

Briefs had not been filed in either case as of Thursday afternoon.

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