source:New Britain Herald
NEW BRITAIN CT.- Feline owners may sleep better from now on.
A Newington woman was sentenced Thursday to 120 days in prison for torturing and drowning her former roommateís cat more than two years ago at a Berlin lake.
Jill A. Mazurek, 21, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges last month in New Britain Superior Court. She admitted to beating and drowning Adonis, an orange tabby, in February 2002, following a rent dispute with the felineís owner, Catherine Towel.
Mazurek was escorted by court marshals after she was sentenced to a previously agreed upon plea agreement of five years in prison to be suspended after four months served and followed by three years probation.
The defendantís parents accompanied her to the courthouse Thursday. Douglas Pelletier, Mazurekís attorney, attempted to shield his client, keeping her outside the courtroom where a group of about 20 animal rights activists were seated until proceedings began.
Judge Susan Handy called the catís killing both brutal and senseless, but said Mazurek was remorseful and appeared sincere and genuine about starting her life over.
"It appears to me that this act of brutality was committed by an extremely troubled and mentally ill woman," Handy said.
Handy indicated Mazurek must continue with therapy she has received since her arrest in May 2002.
Mazurek was also ordered to comply with conditions including anger management therapy, as well as taking any professionally prescribed medication, while serving her probation.
Victims advocate Valina Carpenter addressed the court Thursday on behalf of Towel, indicating the catís owner felt relief about the completion of the case, which has attracted a large volume of attention from both local media and animal lovers.
Carpenter said the court received in excess of 2,000 letters and petitions while the case was pending.
"Iím just very happy this is over and that I can put this whole thing behind me," said Towel, "Iím glad sheís going to get the help she needs."
Members from organizations including the Meriden Humane Society and A.I.D. a Pet, a group of pet caretakers for those fighting AIDS, huddled together outside the court house holding picket signs and demanding additional jail time for Mazurek.
"Itís definitely not enough jail time," said Susan Potter, an East Hartford resident who also owns the mother of the dead cat."But maybe people will think before they hurt another family when they see how much attention this case has gotten, Iíve attended every single protest here."
City and state police were on hand at the courthouse on Thursday to make sure order was maintained. On June 15, 2002, a Glastonbury woman was arrested in New Britain for assaulting Michael Pajak, a codefendant in Mazurekís case.
Elaine Pike was later granted accelerated rehabilitation by a New Britain judge, allowing her to avoid jail time and a criminal record, after she admitted to grabbing Pajakís shirt and shoving him.
Authorities believe Pajak and Michael Oziomek witnessed Mazurek bring Adonis to Silver Lake in a bag, shave the cat, write on it with a marker, and beat it with a glass bottle and rocks before tossing the animal into the lake.
Police reports said Adonis swam back to shore, where Mazurek smashed the animal into some rocks before abandoning him in the water for a second time.
Officers later searched the lake but Adonis was never found.
Pajak and Oziomek are awaiting trial for their involvement with the case.
"I just feel bad because I was the one who taught Adonis to love and trust people," said Debi Bagley, president of Middletown-based Catales, an animal rescue organization. "I believe he kept swimming back because he thought she would save him. He didnít have a clue what was happening.
Bagley said she found Adonis in Hartford and placed him with Towel while he was a kitten. She also said Thursdayís ruling was "a big step for the state of Connecticut."
"The courtís have acknowledged what a heinous crime animal abuse is and hoepfully it will deter others from engaging in that activity," Bagley said.