Thoughts & update on Galveston birder's trial
From Galveston County Daily News:
GALVESTON — The trial of an island bird lover could end today with closing arguments this morning in his animal-cruelty case.
Jim Stevenson, 54, faces the charge for shooting a cat in November 2006 near the western tip of the island. Stevenson is president of the Galveston Ornithological Society.
At issue in the case is whether the cat was a pet, belonging to a San Luis Pass toll-bridge worker. The worker had claimed he had been feeding and caring for the cat and that he had considered the animal his.
However, defense attorney Tad A. Nelson has said the animal was feral and had no owner.
The Texas Penal Code has 10 definitions for cruelty to animals. The one that applies to Stevenson’s case is anyone who seriously injures an animal “belonging to another without legal authority or the owner’s effective consent.”
If jurors find the cat was feral, or wild, then it had no owner and that law did not apply to Stevenson’s actions. However, if they find the cat was the bridge worker’s pet, the charge could carry a jail term of 180 days to two years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.