BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — BEVERLY — The 6-month-old tuxedo kitten likely suffered for some period of time, a veterinarian concluded.
Spooky suffered multiple traumatic injuries, which didn’t kill the cat immediately. Instead, the kitten died slowly, from a combination of those injuries and hypothermia, the necropsy concluded.
The man responsible for the kitten’s death last year, Anthony Geyer, was sentenced yesterday to 21/2 years in jail for animal cruelty, to be followed by five years of probation on two other charges, and residential mental health treatment.
He is also barred from owning or caring for any animals during his probation.
Salem District Court Judge Michael Lauranzano said Geyer’s actions in February 2013, when he was left alone with the creature while his mother was hospitalized, were “horrible, absolutely horrible. Beyond the pale.”
That said, “We have to figure out what we’re going to do with Mr. Geyer,” the judge added.
“I think it is my responsibility to fashion a disposition that addresses Mr. Geyer’s history (of mental health issues) and needs so ... we don’t run into these same issues in the future.”
Geyer, 22, was staying with his mother in her Cabot Street apartment last year when she had to be hospitalized.
When she returned, she discovered the kitten in the freezer, dead, she told police.
Neighbors then reported seeing Geyer dragging the kitten, howling, through cold, icy puddles and snowbanks, outside, and one noticed that the animal’s rear legs did not seem to be working.
His mother, Cherie Brown, subsequently reported that prior to entering the hospital, Geyer had threatened and assaulted her, leading to his arrest on domestic assault charges. She believes the torture and killing of her cat was retaliation for the arrest.
There had been a long-troubled history between Geyer and his mother, who lost custody of him when he was about 5; he was later adopted by an Illinois family.
According to prosecutors, Geyer’s relationship with that family turned violent; he was charged with domestic abuse in Illinois in 2010. He then returned to Massachusetts.
Both Brown and Geyer’s biological father, who lives in Amesbury, now want nothing to do with their son.
Prosecutor Lynsey Legier, who had urged the maximum penalty on all three charges against Geyer, suggested that Geyer has had the benefit of treatment in the past.
His hospitalizations for mental illness started when he was 3, the judge had noted.
But Legier said that treatment and the love and support of adoptive parents weren’t enough to stop Geyer from turning to violence.
“Just because this defendant faced a hard life does not give him the right to do what he did to a defenseless kitten, or to his mother,” said Legier.
She described the findings of the necropsy and suggested, “It’s not a stretch to imagine him doing this to a human being.”
Defense attorney Steve Reardon said Geyer’s life has been a “litany of sorrow” from childhood.
But he urged the judge to release him to a treatment program as soon as possible. “If he does not get the necessary treatment, and soon, we’re committing him to a life of re-offending,” said Reardon. “If we give him the treatment he needs, at least we have some hope of getting a better human being.”
Geyer, who pleaded guilty to animal cruelty, witness intimidation and domestic assault and battery in January, has undergone a pre-sentencing mental health evaluation at the request of the judge.
Doctors and the court’s social worker have recommended treatment for Geyer once he is released.
The judge agreed and made that residential behavioral treatment a requirement of his sentence.
Because he has spent more than a year in custody since his arrest, Geyer will be eligible for parole in just a couple of months, after completing 15 months of the 21/2 year sentence.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.