A Lewis County prosecutor this week filed what he termed a “somewhat spirited” response to a request from an animal rights attorney to convene a grand jury to consider a felony charge in the April death of a Centralia cat.
“The limited purpose of grand juries in Washington state is to aid law enforcement in combating large scale, felony level organized crime,” wrote Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher. “A grand jury is not a de-facto court of appeals for private, disgruntled animal rights activists who don’t like the elected prosecutor’s charging decisions.”
Animal rights attorney Adam Karp, hired by advocates for Jay the cat, filed the request to convene a grand jury for a possible felony charge Tuesday, moments after a Lewis County District Court Judge denied his civil motion for misdemeanor charges in the case.
He filed the request on behalf of Barnes M. Ware. The District Court motion was filed on behalf of a Thurston County-based animal services officer. Meagher noted that neither has standing in the case as they were not owners of the cat and do not reside in Lewis County.
“Counsel for the plaintiff needs to figure out who his client is,” Meagher wrote in his response. “There is no explanation as to why Mr. Karp exchanged one client for another on the same issue 15 minutes after being denied his petition in District Court.”
Karp was hired after a crowdfunding effort by advocates for Jay the cat.
Meagher asked Lewis County’s three Superior Court judges to deny the motion to convene a grand jury without a hearing.
“Angry animal rights mobs don’t determine whether we charge someone with a crime; prosecutors make that decision,” Meagher wrote.
Karp wrote in a Facebook post that he plans to reply to Meagher’s argument next week.
On April 28, the Centralia Police Department arrested a man on suspicion of killing the cat in the 100 block of Virginia Drive in Centralia.
However, the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office determined soon after reviewing the case that there was not enough evidence against the man to charge him, but that it seemed a group of children were involved.
The Prosecutor’s Office noted at the time that it appeared the man was attempting to put the cat out of its misery by killing it.
The cat was “squeezed,” had been thrown or dropped from a second-story balcony at least twice and had a stone thrown or dropped on its head, according to the Prosecutor’s Office. The cat was also stabbed in the head at some point.
An 11-year-old girl was determined to have caused the initial injury to the cat, and is currently in compliance with a Juvenile Court diversion program.
On Tuesday, Adam Karp and plaintiff Erika Johnson, a Thurston County-based animal control officer and animal cruelty investigator, brought a civil motion asking Lewis County District Court Judge R.W. Buzzard to direct the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office to file misdemeanor charges against three adults allegedly involved in the cat’s death.
Meagher, representing the Prosecutor’s Office at Tuesday’s hearing on the motion, said his office thoroughly investigated the case and determined it was not feasible to charge the adults.
“This was the state’s best case, against the 11-year-old,” he said in court Tuesday.
Buzzard sided with the Prosecutor’s Office, concluding that there was not enough admissible evidence to charge and convict any of the three adults on cruelty charges in District Court.
He denied Karp’s request and said the motion would go no further in District Court.
Immediately after Buzzard’s ruling, Karp filed his request to convene a grand jury in Lewis County Superior Court to consider a felony charge against one of the adults allegedly involved in the cat’s death.
Meagher filed his response to the request two days later.