A New York City teacher is getting a lesson in the law this week after being sued by a former friend for allegedly murdering her pet cat. Jessica Barrish, 30, is suing school teacher and college friend Joseph Ari Chiesa for millions for the murder of her beloved 3-year-old Siamese cat, Cassie.
According to the New York Post report Saturday, Barrish is suing 29-year-old Chiesa for $2 million, citing property damage and mental suffering, for sneaking into her East 86th Street apartment and allegedly torturing, mutilating and murdering her cat last May.
“She found a paper towel covered in blood, a pair of pajamas, which was spotted with blood, and blood splattered on the walls of the apartment and on the living room couch. ... Cassie hid in the corner of Jessica’s bathroom and died of her injuries,” said the court document, which claims Chiesa tortured the animal by whacking it against a chair and a window screen.
The lawsuit also accuses Chiesa of smashing lamps in Barrish’s apartment, stealing a $3,000 bracelet and calling her neighbor “fat” a few hours before the cat's murder, after he remained in her New York apartment while Barrish was out celebrating her birthday last year.
Court documents state that Barrish is also seeking a restraining order against her pet's attacker due to having traumatic episodes since the incident saying, “[She has] flashbacks from the scene and nightmares about it virtually every day since.”
Chiesa previously pleaded guilty to aggravated animal cruelty charges in New York last year, serving four months in jail.
The last highly publicized cat murder was the trial of Galveston, Texas, native John Stevenson after he was charged with animal cruelty for allegedly shooting Mama the cat with a .22 caliber rifle in 2007. Stevenson said he killed the cat, among many other felines, all who he considered a nuisance to patrons of his bird-watching bed-and-breakfast business.
Galveston County Assistant District Attorney Paige L. Santell described the feline’s death as painful, saying Stevenson “shot that animal in cold blood” and left the cat “gurgling in its own blood.”
“I can’t believe this is actually a trial,” said one unidentified female observer, who watched the case end in a mistrial. “Cats have been killing birds for centuries, and they are predators. This is just insane,” she said.