FREEHOLD – A Monmouth County Grand Jury has returned an indictment against the Asbury Park man charged with torturing and killing his pet cat earlier this year, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Monday.    

Bani J. Mezquititla, 18, is charged with Animal Cruelty by Tormenting, Torturing, or Unnecessarily or Cruelly Abusing a Living Animal, Resulting in its Death, and Animal Cruelty by Using or Causing or Procuring the Use of an Animal or Creature in Any Kind of Sexual Manner, both third-degree crimes.  

An investigation into Mezquititla’s activities was initiated on Thursday, March 2, when a concerned citizen brought the body of a dead cat to Asbury Park Police Department headquarters.

Members of that agency and the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Humane Law Enforcement Division determined that the cat had belonged to Mezquititla, who allegedly first performed sexual acts on the animal, seriously injuring it. He is also alleged to have later restrained and tortured the cat, resulting in its death.

Mezquititla was located and arrested later on the same day the investigation was initiated, then transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI). He remains incarcerated there as the case has progressed, as a motion by the State to keep him detained was granted.

Anyone with information about this matter is still urged to contact Asbury Park Police Detective Anthony Houlis at 732-502-4582, SPCA Chief of Humane Law Enforcement Michael Goldfarb at 732-542-0040, or SPCA Lt. Michael Magliozzo at 732-440-4538.

Convictions on criminal charges of this nature can be punishable by up to five years in state prison. This case has been assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Keri-Leigh Schaefer and Sevan Biramian.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.