Midland Man Sentenced to Community Service For Mutilating Cats

Midland Man Sentenced to Community Service For Mutilating Cats

Anum Valliani

NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - A man in Midland has been sentenced for animal cruelty. 81 year-old  Francisco Benitez was found torturing cats.

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter said he remembers the man had some issues with neighboring animals roaming onto his property. So he decided to send a message.

According to the affidavit, a witness claims Benitez would brag about killing the cats and hanging them by the neck and head from his storage shed.  A witness also asserted seeing a pile of cats' tails by Benitez's storage area but they were removed by the time authorities came.  

But eventually Benitez was caught.

"How can a guy sit in jail next to somebody that's committed a murder or an armed robbery and sit there and say, 'What are you in for?' 'Uh, I cut up a cat..' That's stupid," Painter said.

But Benitez won't be in jail unless he violates his probation.  On Thursday, he was sentenced to 100 days of community service at an animal clinic and two years of probation.

"You know I'm glad that they did something. Do I think that the punishment fits the crime? No." Dr. Jennifer Todia, said.

Todia remembers when one of Benitez's victims, Athena, was brought in for help at the A To Z Veterinary Clinic in Midland last year.

"I don't think there was not a dry eye in the place. When she first came in she was missing both of her ears, down to the skull. She had no tail. Obviously, she had bled quite a bit but she was still very loving, very affectionate, very calm," Todia said.

In her recovery process, we're told Athena turned into a little celebrity making appearances on some posters and jars and being the basis of petitions drafted in the fight against animal cruelty.  

She was only stressed when she had to make her way to the courtroom as evidence against Benitez last Thursday. But, mostly she's a happy furball, because as of three months ago, Athena, was adopted. 

"I'm pretty sure the cat chose her. It was one of those things the cat just bonded with her," Todia said.

Although they're all happy she's alive, officials don't understand why someone would harm innocent animals.

"He's got a problem, a serious problem," Painter said, adding that Benitez wasn't the only twisted one. "We've had several cases where people have taken remains of animals or thrown them on the street or thrown them on somebody's porch or done something with them. Eventually, we catch up to them and there's no reason. Whatever was floating through their mind at the time, it's gone," he said.

But Todia contends that this is the worst she's ever seen.