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Witness Says Man Killed Cat Over Sandwich

By Karin Brulliard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 27, 2005; Page LZ03

A Leesburg man said he stomped on his girlfriend's pet cat because the animal tried to eat his sandwich and then bit him, a witness testified in Loudoun County General District Court on Tuesday. The cat died later that day.

Chad Cornell said he pulled Peter Jordan Landrith, 38, away as Landrith stepped on the 14-year-old cat, which was inside a small plastic trash can at the home of Cornell's mother, who was dating Landrith at the time. Cornell said that he and his mother drove the cat to a Leesburg animal hospital but that it died on the way.

Cornell's testimony came during Landrith's preliminary hearing on a felony animal cruelty charge stemming from the Oct. 15 incident. If convicted, Landrith could face as many as five years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Cornell said he was upstairs in his mother's Leesburg townhouse when he heard the cat, named Luke, "screaming." He said he raced downstairs to a storage room and found Landrith stomping his foot into the trash can, where the cat lay moaning.

Cornell said the cat was bleeding and breathing heavily and that his eyes were "wide open" when he pulled him out of the trash can.

"He just didn't look right," Cornell testified, visibly upset as he spoke.

After the incident, Cornell said, Landrith left the room without saying anything. Landrith made the comment about the sandwich about 15 minutes later, as Cornell and his mother were leaving for the animal hospital, Cornell said.

Animal control officer Jeanette Farrell testified that she found cat hair and spattered blood in the trash can when she inspected it that day. The trash can, bagged as evidence, sat on the floor next to the prosecution table during the hearing Tuesday.

Judge Julia T. Cannon said there was enough evidence to send the case to Circuit Court. Landrith will appear there Feb. 15.

The case has attracted the attention of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which sent a letter Monday to Commonwealth's Attorney James E. Plowman asking that Landrith be required to undergo psychological evaluation, counseling and anger-management classes if he is convicted.

Cannon also amended the conditions of Landrith's bond by forbidding him from owning or possessing animals while his charges are pending. And, noting Landrith's "transient" situation -- Landrith testified that recently he had been living in local hotels and campgrounds -- she required that he check in periodically with the court.

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