By The Chronicle
Two years after the grisly death of a cat named Jay in Centralia, animal rights activists are still seeking justice for his killers. The Court of Appeals is set to hear arguments on Tuesday morning in regard to the cat that was killed in Centralia under suspicious circumstances back in April 2016.
According to attorney Adam Karp, Tuesday’s hearing will serve as an appeal to a previous decision in Lewis County that prevented the case from reaching a grand jury.
In a statement posted online, Karp explained, “The court of appeals will hear oral argument on the Baby Jay case. Aside from the importance of his particular tragedy, the court will be determining whether the citizens have a right to petition the courts of this state to initiate criminal prosecution, whether by information or grand jury indictment, when the elected prosecutor fails or refuses to act.”
Karp was hired in 2016 by animal rights activists to represent the feline, with a legal fund raised by social media crowdsourcing efforts. Karp previously filed a failed motion in Lewis County District Court on behalf of Barnes M. Ware, and an ill-fated request for a grand jury in Lewis County Superior Court on behalf of Thurston County-based animal services officer Erika Johnson. The request for appeal in Pierce County was also filed on behalf of Ware.
In December 2016, the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office declined to pursue charges against a man who was arrested by Centralia police on suspicion of killing the the cat in the 100 block of Virginia Drive during April of that same year. After reviewing evidence in the case, the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office determined there was not enough evidence to charge him and noted that it appeared that a group of children may have initiated the cat’s demise.
The Prosecutor’s Office implied that the man who was arrested actually appeared to be attempting to put the cat out of its misery. Similarly, two adults believed to have been involved in the cat’s death were also released without charges.
According to a Prosecutor’s Office, the cat had been “squeezed” and thrown or dropped from a second-story balcony at least twice, in addition to having a rock thrown or dropped on its head. Reports noted that the cat was also stabbed in the head.
When the Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges, Karp filed a motion asking Lewis County District Court Judge R.W. Buzzard to direct the Prosecutor’s Office to file misdemeanor charges against all three adults associated with the incident. Buzzard denied the request and stated that the motion would not advance in District Court.
Karp then filed a request to convene a grand jury in Lewis County Superior Court in order to pursue felony charges against one of the adults. Two days after that request was issued, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Brad Meagher wrote what he described as a “somewhat spirited” rebuke.
“The limited purpose of grand juries in Washington state is to aid law enforcement in combating large scale, felony level organized crime,” wrote Meagher. “A grand jury is not a de facto court of appeals for private, disgruntled animal rights activists who don’t like the elected prosecutors charging decisions.”
In an email to The Chronicle, Karp explained that the case has been moved to Pierce County because appeals cases are only heard in Tacoma, Seattle and Spokane.
Thus far, the only person to face punishment in the death of Jay the cat is a girl who was 11-years-old at the time of the incident. She was found to have caused the initial injury to the cat and was placed into the Juvenile Court diversion program.
“This was the state’s best case, against the 11-year-old,” said Meagher at the time.
Tuesday’s appeals court appearance is scheduled for 9 a.m.at the Court of Appeals located at 950 Broadway Suite 300, Tacoma.