Joplin man fined for killing felines

Escrito por Nuria Querol i Viñas. Publicado en News in English.

An investigation by city animal control officers and Joplin police found that Klingensmith had admitted trapping cats that came onto his property at 1119 S. Roosevelt Ave., and taking them to Oklahoma and killing them with a 12-gauge shotgun. Joplin man fined for killing felines
Owner infuriated after hearing court's decision

Jeff Lehr
Globe Staff Writer
9/22/05
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Monica Klingensmith is infuriated that neighbor Richard King was not punished beyond a fine and $100 restitution on Wednesday in connection with the killing of her daughter's cat and the cat of her brother's family.

King, 77, appeared in Joplin Municipal Court and was fined $500.50 by Judge Alexander Curchin after a guilty plea entered on a reduced count of illegal trapping. King had been facing two counts of animal abuse.

The judge also ordered King to pay $24.50 in court costs but suspended $350 of the fine on two conditions, that King not break any other commit any other violations of city ordinances for two years and that he pay Klingensmith's family $100 in restitution.

"I am so mad right now," Klingensmith told the Globe when informed of the court's decision Wednesday afternoon.

She expressed bitter disappointment that she was not able to be in court for King's hearing.

She said the city prosecutor failed to inform her of the hearing.

Klingensmith expressed anger that one of the counts, pertaining to the disappearance of her brother's family cat, was dropped and the other, pertaining to her 14-year-old daughter Marah's cat, Leo, was reduced to a misdemeanor trapping violation.

"And we're not talking about just my cat or my brother's cat," Klingensmith said. "He admitted to killing at least 15 cats."

An investigation by city animal control officers and Joplin police found that Klingensmith had admitted trapping cats that came onto his property at 1119 S. Roosevelt Ave., and taking them to Oklahoma and killing them with a 12-gauge shotgun.

The Klingensmiths' cat and a cat belonging to Klingensmith's brother, Jason Burrington, and his wife, Richelle Burrington, disappeared in May from their homes in the 1100 block of South Willard Avenue.

City Prosecutor Dan Bagley had indicated as late as July that he intended to seek jail time for King on the alleged offenses. Bagley is currently on vacation and was not present in court on Wednesday. But, Peter Edwards, the assistant city attorney who represented the city prosecutor's office at the hearing, told the Globe that it was his understanding the plea agreement had been worked out earlier this month.

Edwards said it was also his understanding that a pre-sentence investigation determined that one of the two cats King trapped, he'd released in Oklahoma. The other, the Klingensmiths' cat, he'd shot and buried, Edwards said. He said he was not aware of any evidence that any other cats had been taken there and killed.

"I'm only aware of the facts of those two specific incidents," Edwards said.

He said several attempts were made to contact Monica Klingensmith about the hearing this week, but the prosecutor's office was unable to reach her.

The city faced a jurisdiction issue with respect to the animal abuse charges since the alleged killings took place in Oklahoma. Edwards said it was his understanding that Joplin's investigative reports were forwarded to authorities in Ottawa County, Okla.

"But we have not heard from them since," Edwards said.

The Ottawa County district attorney and an Ottawa County sheriff's investigator believed to have some knowledge of the matter were not available for comment on Wednesday. The district attorney's office did indicate that no charges had been filed there as yet with respect to the case.

A woman who answered the phone at King's house on Wednesday afternoon said he had no comment. Thomas Mann, King's public defender, did not return a call seeking comment.

In an interview after he was charged, King said, "I've disposed of many abandoned animals in the same humane way. The cats caused damage to my wife's flowers, and I don't like them digging in my garden and leaving their droppings."

He said he had given them the "12-12 treatment," which he said stood for shooting them with a 12-gauge shotgun from 12 steps away.