FREEHOLD – A Howell Township resident has been sentenced to four years and six months in state prison for intentionally killing his pet cat last year, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Friday.    

Christopher Sanchez, 29, was sentenced yesterday by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Scott C. Arnette.

An investigation into Sanchez’s activities was initiated on Friday, March 31, 2023, when members of the Howell Township Police Department dispatched to a residence for an unrelated matter found the body of the cat outside the home.

Members of the Howell Township Police Department and the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Humane Law Enforcement Division conducted an investigation determining that the cat, named Lilith, had belonged to Sanchez, who used a sharp instrument to kill it two days earlier, recording photos and video footage of the act.

Sanchez was arrested on the same day as the initial police response. He has remained incarcerated at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) since, having pleaded guilty in December 2023 to third-degree Animal Cruelty by Unnecessarily or Cruelly Abusing a Living Animal, Resulting in its Death, and Simple Assault, a disorderly persons offense. The Simple Assault charge was filed because Sanchez physically attacked his roommate shortly after killing the cat.

Judge Arnette yesterday recited a list of additional requirements beyond the prison term, noting that Sanchez is also ordered to have no contact with the victim of the assault, never to return to the scene of the crime, surrender all of his privately owned firearms, and engage in 30 days of community service. He also received a permanent ban on owning or living in a residence with any pet or animal, and was ordered to pay $525 in restitution – to cover the cost of the necropsy that disproved his initial claim to authorities that the cat’s death was a mercy killing necessitated by her being mortally injured from being struck by a vehicle.

The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Keri-Leigh Schaefer and Sevan Biramian.