Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Kyle Richard Berry Kicking a police dog

Enfield, CT

Hartford County

2008  
Kyle Richard Berry, 43 killed neighbors cat

Enfield, CT

Hartford County

November 1, 2008  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved
Felony domestic violence, probation violation, drug posession 1 police dog, 1 cat

Enfield resident Kyle Richard Berry, already facing three years in jail for violating probation he received after kicking a police dog, decided to gamble on beating a cruelty-to-animals charge in another incident that could land him behind bars for an additional five years.

Appearing in Superior Court before Judge Howard Scheinblum, Berry, 43, insisted he didn't mean to kill the neighbor's cat he kicked twice, once with enough force to lift the animal off the ground and send it flying "a good distance," according to an arrest warrant affidavit from Enfield Police.

"Didn't you tell the police you kicked the cat?" asked Scheinblum.  "I didn't intend to kill the animal. It was a 10-second incident that spiraled out of control," answered a grim Berry, dressed in prison garb, beige pants and a white T-shirt. "I'm not a criminal. If I was guilty I would take my lumps."

Berry is well known to Enfield Police, his wife having taken out a protective order against him in July 2007. Scott Smith, grandson of the cat's owner, was in court and said Berry "fought 12 cops outside my house" during the domestic-dispute incident involving the police dog.

Scheinblum was incredulous that the 6-foot-4-inch, 230-pound Berry would turn down a deal that would have him serve three and a half years for both offenses — kicking the dog and kicking the cat. He is already going to jail for three years on the violation-of-probation charge, so Berry would essentially wipe out the risk of being sentenced to another five years on a felony cruelty to animals conviction by agreeing to serve an additional six months.

"Do you understand what's going to happen?" asked Scheinblum. "Your exposure is eight years. The court has offered three and a half years. Are you sure you want to refuse it?"

"Yes," responded Berry in a low, nearly inaudible voice.

Berry's attorney, Patrick Tomasiewicz of Fazzano, Tomasiewicz & Barall in Hartford, told Scheinblum he had reviewed everything carefully with his client, but that it was not his role to make any decisions for him.

"This man is a human being with his own choices," said Tomasiewicz. "I'm comfortable he's making his own choices."

Tomasiewicz got off to a rocky start with Scheinblum, failing to show up for a court date the previous week after sending a fax saying he was attending a conference out of state; and walking into the courtroom five minutes before his own self-imposed deadline. Tomasiewicz had sent another fax saying he would be in court between 11 and 11:30 a.m.

"Let the record show Mr. Tomasiewicz appeared at 11:25 a.m.," said an obviously annoyed Scheinblum.

Annette Smith, owner of the gray-and-white cat named Iris that Berry kicked, said her 12-year-old granddaughter witnessed the entire incident on Nov. 1, 2008.  "I saw him give the last kick, but my poor granddaughter was watching him out the window because I was doing something in the yard," said Smith. "She came running out, screaming 'Look what he's doing to Iris!'"

Smith says that when she confronted Berry about what he had done, he said, "Is that your cat? Come over here and I'll show you what I'll do to you." Smith picked up her cat and carried him home.

In the arrest warrant affidavit, Enfield Police Officer Nicole Martel-Moylan, who responded to the scene, explains what happened after an animal control officer was called to take care of the cat. Iris had hidden under the grill on Smith's back porch and wasn't moving.

"It was bleeding from the mouth and peeing uncontrollably, clear signs of internal trauma according to [the animal control officer]," wrote Martel-Moylan. "She explained that she would transport the animal to the nearest open animal hospital, Suffield Veterinary Clinic, for treatment or euthanasia. She then left and later informed me that the cat had died while en route and had been pronounced dead by the on-staff veterinarian."

Martin Mersereau, director of cruelty casework for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Norfolk, Va., said behavior such as Berry's is rarely isolated to animals only.  "For many years now, experts in both law enforcement and medical fields recognize animal abuse is symptomatic of deep disorder," said Mersereau. "Animal abusers pose a definitive risk to the community. The link to interpersonal violence is undeniable. We see it in the history of school shooters and serial killers."

Recognizing that link, says Mersereau, state legislators — including in Connecticut — have upped the penalties for cruelty to animals over the past decade. He said the five-year sentence for a felony conviction in Connecticut is typical of other states.

In an infamous case in January 2008, a 33-year-old Plainville man named Severino Cruz was deported to Mexico after being accused of drilling several holes into the head of a pit bull after it bit his son. The dog, which belonged to Cruz's brother, had to be euthanized.

"Animal abusers rarely do so only once and they almost never stop there," said Mersereau. "These are sadists, cowards and losers of the worst degree. They usually start with animals and end up abusing their fellow humans."

Annette Smith, who said it took more than an hour for her cat to die, is determined to see the case against Berry through to the end. Trial has been set for September.

"People told me 'You're wasting your time, they're not going to do nothing,'" said Smith. "I said, 'I'm going for it.' I respected that cat, he gave us plenty of love. I'll fight for him all the way."

Update 12/23/08:  The cat died en route to Suffield Veterinary Clinic, and a necropsy performed at the University of Connecticut's Pathobiology and Veterinary Science Department found the cat died of "multifocal liver trauma with internal abdominal hemorrhage," caused by the kick, the affidavit said.

Kyle Berry, of 21B Bailey Road, was arraigned on Dec. 1 in Superior Court before Judge Kevin Dubay, and he was released on a $10,000 bond. He will return to court on Jan. 12.

Berry at age 29, was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia on October 30, 1995.  Court records for March 21, 1996 show the charges as not being prosecuted.  Berry was arrested by Enfield Police on October 29, 1995 and January 17, 1996.

Reference:

Hartford Advocate

Journal Inquirer

The Hartford Courant