Accused Cat Killer Sentenced To Five Years

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Johnen Velez

Johnen Velez, 19, pleaded no contest Wednesday, July 24 to a charge of cruelty to animals. (Courtesy of Manchester Police Department )

HARTFORD — A man accused of killing a cat and leaving the animal’s bludgeoned body at the home of a rival for a young woman’s attention pleaded no contest Wednesday to a charge of cruelty to animals.

Johnen Velez, of Hartford, also pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in an unrelated case and admitted to violating probation.

He was sentenced to five years in prison and four years of special parole.

The dead cat was left at a home on East Middle Turnpike in Manchester on Oct. 26, 2012. A note that said, “You’re next” was also left at the scene, a state prosecutor said.

Velez denied culpability in the incident. His lawyer, William David O’Connor, told the judge on Wednesday that a young woman who admitted to harming the animal had gone to Manchester police, but police did not take her statement.

Prosecutor Anthony Bochicchio said DNA evidence was found linking Velez to the bag the cat was found in.

According to an arrest warrant, a pillowcase containing a dead cat had been tied around a railing outside the house, and a threatening note had been left on a vehicle in the driveway.

Police learned that Velez and a young man who lives at the East Middle Turnpike home had dated the same woman, the warrant says. The woman and Velez broke up in September, and she reportedly wanted to reunite with the other man.

Velez’s fingerprints were found on the threatening note left at the East Middle Turnpike home, the warrant says.

The assault charge stems from a fight Velez was in on a bus on Aug. 13, 2012. He was on probation at the time.

By Hilda Munoz, Hartford Courant

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