'I'm not a psycho': Asbury Park man accused of raping and killing pet cat told cops
FREEHOLD - With his client accused of raping, torturing and killing his pet cat, a defense attorney argued at a detention hearing Tuesday that his client should be released from jail because he never harmed a human being.
But Superior Court Judge Henry P. Butehorn rejected that argument and ordered Bani J. Mezquititla held without bail, after an assistant Monmouth County prosecutor offered a detailed, shocking account of what the 18-year-old Asbury Park man is alleged to have done to his pet cat, "Ellie.''
Assistant Prosecutor Sevan Biramian alleged at the hearing that Mezquititla had sexual intercouse with his pet cat over a period of months and also sexually abused her with a pencil; that he tortured her by repeatedly strangling her with a pulley device consisting of the phone charger cord, a door knob and a dresser knob; that he handcuffed the feline's limbs behind her back with miniature handcuffs during the torture; that he cut off her tongue and part of her jaw while she was still alive; and that once she was dead, he threw her out of his apartment window.
Mezquititla took pictures and video of the torture upon his cat, Briamian said. Some of those included selfies showing Ellie fighting for her life as she was being strangled, he said. In those selfies, Mezquititla "can be seen smirking,'' Biramian said.
"He raped it multiple times,'' Biramian said of the violence Mezquititla allegedly committed upon his cat. "He fashioned torture devices to strangle the cat over and over, and then he dissected her while she was alive. He doesn't appear to have a conscience. He did this because Ellie was defenseless.''
Mezquititla is charged with two counts of animal cruelty, offenses for which there is no presumption of incarceration while awaiting trial. Despite that, Butehorn ordered Mezquititla held without bail to await trial.
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In issuing the order, Butehorn cited the strength of the evidence against Mezquititla, which includes the photographs and videos, a confession by the defendant and a veterinarian's report from a post-mortem examination concluding the cat's injuries were consistent with the defendant having sex with her, sexually abusing her with a pencil, strangling her and dissecting her tongue and jaw while she was still alive.
"All of this evidence does indicate a depravity of the mind that goes far beyond animal cruelty,'' Butehorn said.
"There is strong evidence to indicate that the defendant engaged in an extended course of unprovoked torture and sexual assaults on an innocent, defenseless cat.'' the judge said.
He cited one of the videos showing the defendant handcuffing the cat's paws behind her back.
"The defendant explained the handcuffing as pretending to be a police officer and arresting the cat after it ran away,'' the judge said.
He said there also is evidence that Mezquititla searched the internet to find out what the penalties are for killing a cat.
Mezquititla's defense attorney, Alton Kenney, argued that the state's bail reform law requires detention of defendants who pose a danger to the community.
"The community is made out of people,'' Kenney said. "There's nothing they can cite to say my client ever, ever harmed a human being. They're trying to equate this cat to a person.''
Kenney said his client needs psychological and psychiatric treatment instead of jail.
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Kenney also argued that Mezquititla has no prior record and, because of that, would be eligible for a pretrial intervention program that would afford him the chance to avoid a criminal record, so he would have no motive to flee the jurisdiction.
"There are people charged with far more serious offenses that are out on the street,'' Kenney said.
"Animal cruelty, especially this sadistic, is the kind of anti-social behavior that poses the most serious risk and danger to humans,'' Biramian countered. "Courts have recognized the link between people who abuse animals and people who abuse humans.''
The assistant prosecutor said the videos showed Mezquititla dangling the cat from the pulley device while the animal struggled for air and then lowering her and allowing her to catch a breath before again lifting her in the air again. The cat can be scene clawing at the air during the torture before she was handcuffed, Biramian said.
On March 2, Mezquititla admitted to his roommate that he killed the cat and threw her out of the apartment window, after first telling the roommate that Ellie had run away, Biramian said. The roommate went outside and retrieved the cat's corpse and brought it to the Asbury Park Police Department, he said.
Mezquititla also showed his roommate the torture photographs and videos, which he said was meant to terrorize the roommate, who had been the person feeding and caring for the cat for months, the assistant prosecutor said.
Mezquititla confessed his abuse to investigators, Biramian said.
The defendant admitted he first masturbated in front of the cat, Briramian said.
"Then, he admitted to sticking a pencil inside the cat, then he admitted to using his penis to have intercourse with the cat,'' Biramian said.
"He said this started months before Ellie's death, sometime around Christmas,'' the assistant prosecutor said.
"When detectives asked the defendant if he had ever done anything like this before, he laughed and said, "No, I"m not a psycho,'' Biramian said.
Kathleen Hopkins, a reporter in New Jersey since 1985, covers crime, court cases, legal issues and just about every major murder trial to hit Monmouth and Ocean counties. Contact her at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Asbury Park man NJ accused of raping, killing cat denied release