The Massachusetts Appeals Court today upheld the animal-cruelty law used to send Luigi Epifania of East Boston away for 2 1/2 years.
Epifania had appealed his sentence for his 2007 flaming-cat tossing by arguing the cat didn't belong to anybody in particular and so was not covered by the state law, which only covers animals owned by "another person."
In its ruling, however, the court said ownership isn't necessarily tightly defined. A cat could have more than one "owner," and that was enough to satisfy the law in this case - where the possible owners included the woman left the cat behind in the building her brother owned when she moved to a building that banned cats and her brother's tenant, Alcadio Rivera - Epifania's friend at the time - who cared for the cat.
Viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the jury were entitled to credit [the landlord]'s testimony that the cat was [the friend]'s and disbelieve Rivera's testimony to the contrary. There was thus sufficient evidence for the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Nunu was owned by "another person," in this case Rivera. ...
According to the court, Epifania took out his anger at his friend's refusal to let him stay over one night on the cat, kicking the cat so hard it died. Epifania then put the cat's body in a bag, lit that on fire and threw it through the window of Rivera's Princeton Street apartment.
According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, after getting out of jail for animal cruelty, Epifania was convicted of trafficking OxyContin and is currently serving a five-year prison term.