Niagara Gazette

March 1, 2013

Jury to take animal cruelty case

By Jim Krencik
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — ALBION — The fate of a man accused of kicking a kitten to death at a Carlton apartment complex last May will be placed in the hands of a jury Friday.

Judge James Punch said Thursday that a 12-person jury will be asked to deliberate on aggravated cruelty to animals and endangering the welfare of a child charges against Richard Keihl.

The jury heard Thursday from conflicting witnesses to Keihl’s whereabouts on the Memorial Day weekend of 2012 as well as testimony on an autopsy performed on the animal.

Keihl, 31, Yates, was arrested in June after allegedly causing the injuries that led to the three-month-old tabby cat’s eventual death.

Dr. Sean P. McDonough of Cornell University, the veterinary pathologist who performed an autopsy of the cat, testified Thursday that its body had a “pattern of bruises from at least two bouts of trauma.”

According to the testimony of Jordan Gulczewski, who lived at the Heritage Meadows Apartments, Keihl injured the cat on the afternoon of May 26 while he was at the apartment he shared with his girlfriend and her children.

“He picked up a little kitten from the garden and brought it to the sidewalk ... and punted it,” said Gulczewski, who testified that she observed the incident. “He picked it up (again) and kicked it into a dumpster.”

Gulczewski, 12, said Keihl then walked over to her, saying “you little brat, you’ve seen nothing.”

That recollection conflicted with those made by Jodi Hughson, Keihl’s girlfriend. Hughson said that Keihl was away from the apartment complex during the day on both May 26 and May 27, spending both afternoon’s at his mother’s Yates-Carlton Townline Road home.

Charlene Keihl agreed with Hughson’s timeline of her son’s whereabouts.

“How is he supposed to have done this if he was at my house all weekend,” Keihl testified.

In testimony that was heard by Punch but not the jury, Orleans County Sheriff’s Sergeant Dean Covis said Richard Keihl expressed a similar sentiment while sitting in his patrol car outside of the County Jail following his initial arraignment in Carlton Town Court.

“He said that he ‘couldn’t believe had to go through all of this for what I did ... or what you said I did’ ,” Covis testified.

Covis said the comment was unprompted by an un-mirandized Keihl. Defense attorney Larry Koss objected to the testimony about the statement, which was not included in the 710.30(1)(a) notices given by District Attorney Joe Cardone to Keihl’s counsel prior to the trial.

Cardone argued that the statement, like those made by un-mirandized defendants at a crime scene, are not required to be included in the pre-trial notices.

“I’ve not seen a case without a post-arraignment statement not given as a 710.30(1)(a) notice,” Punch said before sustaining Koss’ objection. “The Court of Appeals ... has ruled it’s not exempt.”

Cardone and Koss are scheduled to present their closing arguments to jurors Friday morning in Orleans County Court.

Contact reporter Jim Krencik

at 798-1400, ext. 6327.

Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.