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Knox v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

July 16, 2014

LARRY D. KNOX, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

APPEAL FROM THE ALLEN SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Wendy W. Davis, Judge. Cause No. 02D05-1302-FD-182.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: STANLEY L. CAMPBELL, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana; RICHARD C. WEBSTER, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

NAJAM, Judge. VAIDIK, C.J., and BROWN, J., concur.

OPINION

NAJAM, Judge.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Larry D. Knox appeals his conviction for torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a Class D felony, following a bench trial. Knox raises a single issue for our review, namely, whether the State presented

Page 900

sufficient evidence to support his conviction. We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In the evening of December 4, 2012, Knox came home and found " a cat in his house." Tr. at 18. Knox " tried to remove the cat by opening the front door and kicking the cat outside," but instead of leaving, the cat " hissed and then ran around him and entered the bedroom area." Id. at 19. When he kicked the cat, " he kicked it very hard[; ] hard enough to knock the front tooth out of the cat" such that the tooth " flew out" of the cat's mouth. Id. at 20, 23. Knox then followed the cat into his bedroom, " pretty much destroyed his bedroom chasing after the cat," and " kick[ed] it a couple more times." Id. at 23. The last time Knox kicked the cat, " he kicked it pretty hard" and " dazed" it. Id. Knox then called for an animal control officer.

At 9:45 p.m., Fort Wayne Animal Control Officer Jason Miller responded to Knox's call. Officer Miller met Knox in front of Knox's house, and Knox described the preceding events to Officer Miller. Officer Miller entered the residence with Knox's permission and observed the cat's upper left canine on the floor, along with blood spatter. Officer Miller asked Knox why he kicked the cat, and Knox responded by stating that " [h]e didn't like cats." Id. at 24. Officer Miller asked Knox if he felt threatened by the cat, and Knox said " no." Id. At one point, Knox " began joking around about how far the tooth had . . . flown from the cat." Id. at 25. Knox did not have any injuries from the cat and stated that the cat had not made contact with him.

In the bedroom, Officer Miller located the cat and observed that it had blood on its face and paws. The cat was motionless, but when Officer Miller began to gently stroke the cat it had no reaction, which told Officer Miller that the cat was not feral. Officer Miller picked up the cat, and it started moving its head " from side to side" and its eyes were moving back and forth, which told Officer Miller that the cat had suffered " some sort of a head injury." Id. at 26. Officer Miller secured the cat in a cage, again, without any display of aggression from the cat, and took it to an emergency veterinary clinic. There, Animal Care Supervisor Laura Rowe observed that the cat, while clearly injured, was " quiet" and " friendly" and " would allow [herself] to be petted." Id. at 43. However, due to the extent of the cat's injuries, emergency veterinarians were unable to do a full exam.

On December 8, Rowe took the cat to the St. Joseph Veterinary Hospital in Fort Wayne. Doctors there were able to anesthetize the cat and take dental x-rays, and the cat required " minimal restraint" when an IV was placed in her front arm. Id. at 44. Doctor Jennifer Stresemann reviewed the x-rays and testified that the results were " consistent with what [Knox] said about kicking the cat in the mouth." Id. at 66. Cats need their canine teeth for hunting, tearing food, and eating, and these teeth are " hooked into . . . the top part of the skull" by strong ligaments. Id. at 65. Doctor Stresemann added that, " to take the tooth totally out of [the] mouth . . . would take some very precise [sic] and it would take a lot of force behind it." Id. at 66. ...


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