'I'm no maniac': Former Moorhead man sentenced for killing cat
MOORHEAD, Minn. — A former Moorhead man who was charged earlier this year with three felony counts of mistreating or torturing animals in connection with the death of three cats was sentenced Monday, Nov. 20, to 60 days in jail.
In September, Jalan Isaac Greer, 24, of Rapid City, S.D., entered what's known as an Alford plea to one count of mistreating or torturing an animal. Under such a plea, a defendant does not take responsibility but agrees a jury might reach a guilty verdict based on the evidence.
On Monday, Clay County District Judge Galen Vaa sentenced Greer to two months in jail, followed by two years of supervised probation, during which he will not be allowed to possess any animals.
If Greer successfully completes his probation, the felony-level conviction will drop to a misdemeanor conviction.
Vaa said while the case was very disturbing, Greer's clean record was a mitigating factor.
As part of the sentence, Greer was ordered to pay more than $1,000 in fees. Vaa said Greer will be allowed to leave jail to attend school.
Greer's attorney, Christopher Cadem, asked Vaa to impose no jail time, stating "punishment in this case has already been doled out" via the publicity the case has generated in the press and on social media.
Cadem also said cases elsewhere in Minnesota involving convictions for similar charges rarely resulted in much jail time.
Prosecutor Pam Harris had asked for 160 days, saying it took a depraved mind "to do something like this."
Greer spoke briefly before he was sentenced, saying that if he was sentenced to a lengthy jail stay "my whole life would just literally come crashing down."
"I'm no maniac," he added. "I don't find pleasure in any of this."
According to court documents filed with the charges:
Police were called to Greer's south Moorhead apartment on Jan. 19 on a report that a cat could be heard crying and making sounds like it was fighting for its life.
Officers found a dead cat on the floor of Greer's apartment.
Greer initially told police he brought the cat, named Oreo, home and it suddenly died. He later told police he may have squeezed the cat harder than he should have.
The charge Greer pleaded guilty to involved Oreo.
Greer also told police another cat died while he was petting it and that he may have been hanging onto the cat's neck too tightly.
A female witness told police about a third cat, named Smokey, that allegedly died while in Greer's care. The witness said Greer told her the cat died after a small towel rod fell on it, and she said Greer sent her a photo showing the dead cat lying on a bathroom floor with a towel rod across its chest.
When police asked Greer why he had killed three cats, he answered that he was fearful of cats and may have killed them while he was blacked out, court documents stated.
Harris acknowledged that the public had been very interested in the case and a number of people had contacted her office demanding a prison sentence.
However, she said based on the level of the crime and Greer's lack of criminal history, her hands were tied as far as how much time behind bars Greer could get.
Cadem hinted that had the case gone to trial the defense could have raised issues relating to an alternative suspect and how Greer was treated by police when he raised the possibility that someone else was to blame.