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Texas pastor tried for animal abuse in death of cat

May 13, 2013 at 5:00 PM

BASTROP, Texas, May 13 (UPI) -- The trial of the Rev. Rick Bartlett, accused of cruelty in the abuse and death of a cat, is set to begin in a Bastrop, Texas, county court.

Bartlett, 56, was arrested in January 2012 after a cat, named Moody, died after being in Bartlett's care, officials said.

The cat was found, injured but with an identification tag, by a municipal animal services officer on the city's Riverwalk, a walking trail adjacent to the Colorado River. A veterinarian's assessment of the cat was that it suffered lung damage consistent with blunt force trauma, or a fall from a high level, police said.

The cat was identified as being owned by Sarah and Eddie Bell, neighbors of Bartlett who have filed a lawsuit against Bartlett claiming he caused the pet's death by "negligently or deliberately" causing it to fall 40 feet from a bridge onto the Riverwalk, the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman reported Monday.

Bartlett initially told police the cat escaped from his truck and later told investigators he opened its cage and expected it to jump out.

Bartlett has since resigned from the church he formerly led, the newspaper said.

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