The 17-year-old boy accused of killing a pet cat in Pine is going to face charges as an adult, the Gila County Attorney's office has decided.
According to a press release from the Gila County Attorney's Office, the pending juvenile case against the alleged cat killer was dismissed.
When the 17-year-old turns 18 in late April, the Gila County Attorney's office will refile the charges and charge him as an adult.
The reasoning for the refiling, according to the press release, is that current Arizona law restricts the jurisdiction of the juvenile court to persons under the age 18.
This means that any resolution of this case along with any court-ordered sanctions would have to be imposed and completed prior to his 18th birthday.
The county attorney's office determined that the majority of this time would be spent on a determination of guilt, either by a plea or adjudication, so there would be insufficient time for a court to order and enforce adequate consequences.
The press release said that dismissing the juvenile charges to refile as an adult is common when the suspect is close to turning 18.
By charging the 17-year-old as an adult, more options are available to the court, including lengthier monitoring and/or counseling through probation or incarceration.
The mother of the 17-year-old, when contacted about her son being charged as an adult rather than a juvenile, declined to comment.
Lynn Garner, whose cat was killed by being shot with a pellet gun, said she is pleased that the teenager is going to face charges as an adult. She mentioned the teenager will turn 18 on April 26.
"I am happy. I think this shows how serious it was," Garner said, adding all of the letters to the editors may have played a role in the teenager being charged as an adult.
Garner said she is extremely pleased with the work that the Gila County Sheriff's Office has done on the case as well as the effort from the county attorney's office.
"I just hope people realize the senselessness if it," she said. "It is not a joke. It is affecting people's lives."
In November, Garner and her husband Mark returned to their home in Pine after shopping in Payson, and could not locate their cat, Moggie.
The two went looking for their cat and found him dead in a trash bag in a creek bed with a pellet gun wound to the head.
At about the same time when the Garners' cat was killed, there was at least one video depicting the killing of a cat that was being shown by a high school senior on the Payson High School campus.
A few Pine residents, who were pet owners, said there were others who chased and beat cats with sticks and baseball bats.
The teenager allegedly told the Gila County Sheriff's Office at the time that the Garners' cat was on his parents' property and looked like a feral cat, so he shot him in the head with a pellet gun before putting the cat into a garbage bag and throwing it in a creek bed.
The Payson Humane Society is still offering a $500 reward for information on the other cat killings that occurred in Pine.
See related story:
Pet owners outraged after brutal cat killing spree