Texas Woman Shoots Husband To Protect Cat

Audrey Deen Miller has proffered a unique defense to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon: she shot her husband to protect her cat. The police report that Miller’s husband threatened to shoot one of her cats with a pellet gun. She did him one better and shot him in the abdomen with a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun.

Source: KHOU

Miller has several cats and dogs . . . and one apparently non-cat loving husband. Assistant Chief Mark Herman expects her account that “[t]he husband was trying to do something to the cat and the wife was just trying to protect her cat.”

It does raise an interesting issue in the treatment of pets. If this were a human, there would be a viable claim of defense of others. Yet, animals are treated in the law as forms of chattel or property and the common law has long held that you cannot kill or maim in defense of property (in both torts and criminal law). Should this change to allow a defense for someone uses potentially lethal force to prevent the killing or maiming of an animal?

When the husband came home (still in a hospital gown), he found that he was locked out. It was not clear if that was the work of his wife or the cats.

40 thoughts on “Texas Woman Shoots Husband To Protect Cat

  1. ” the common law has long held that you cannot kill or maim in defense of property”

    You might want to inform the police of this.

  2. I predict she will walk. See, self-defense by a battered woman doesn’t fly in Texas, Florida, Virginia, and like that. But cats? EVERYONE LOVES CATS. They will not conclude, “the cat must have done something to deserve it.” They will not conclude, “the cat should have left him long ago.” They will not conclude, “the cat makes false allegations,” or any of that. The woman will be sainted. Damn, it almost makes me wish I was a cat person.

  3. Now folks, how many of you have a pet cat? How many have a pet dog? How many have a pet boyfriend or girlfriend? Ms. Jones in the front row, does your cat live in the home or is it an outside cat? Does she require you to pet her every morning when you get up? If a burglar were to invade the home would you defend your cat? Can I see a show of hands of those who agree with Ms. Jones?
    All jurors raise their hands.

    Your honor, the entire panel is acceptable to me.

  4. Not really. There is always the aspiration of hope, but there is not always the reality of hope fulfilled. As evidence of this proposition, I submit the current Presidential electoral process since the dismantling of FECA and the ascension of Citizens United.

  5. Smom,

    I truly hope that as goes Austin, so goes the rest of Texas, but I’ve been to many other parts of Texas. It is a slim hope at best. Especially out in the wilds of West Texas.

  6. No wonder some areas of Texas are refusing to teach evolution in their school system, ….. It’s rather obvious to me that evolution has not happened in some areas of Texas.

  7. I believe that in the state of Texas it is legal to shoot someone in defense of property (see the Horn case and others—Horn was acquitted for killing over the theft of a neighbor’s t.v.).

  8. Texas was also the first state to award damages beyond the replacement value of a pet if killed. That case is setting precidents accross the country. Maybe this case will have some legs.

  9. “Texas was also the first state to award damages beyond the replacement value of a pet if killed. That case is setting precidents accross the country. Maybe this case will have some legs.”

    I’m pretty sure Texas was not the first. Also, the Texas Supreme Court has just recently accepted cert in that case. The Texas Supreme Court is very business friendly and hates any kind of new tort or damages. I expect them to overturn the appellate decision, although I hope I’m wrong.

  10. Nick S.

    Hyperbole is permissable in the defense of helpless women. How would you like to hear in a divorce proceedings that there must be something wrong with you just because you complain about your wife.
    You are such a bounder—by definition.

    Any reports from Playa del Carmen. Do you really think that they went to Tulum. So much else to do!!!

  11. “Should this change to allow a defense for someone uses potentially lethal force to prevent the killing or maiming of an animal?”

    It certainly would make deer hunting season much more exciting!

  12. ID, I know they went zip lining yesterday, they plan to go to Tulum on a cloudy day. They’ve both been to Cozumel. We took our family there twice when they were kids. There’s also a turtle sanctuary nearby. They make good soup ala Bookbinder’s soup w/ a little sherry. I’m sure they would get evicted if they mentioned Bookbinders.

  13. Yet, animals are treated in the law as forms of chattel or property and the common law has long held that you cannot kill or maim in defense of property (in both torts and criminal law).
    ————————————————–
    what is the penalty for being cruel, callous and inflicting harm to a chair?

    good girl!

  14. Just imagine the sudden new twist in the George Zimmerman defense:

    I saw this guy; he looked real suspicious, like he was up to no good. SH*T, he ran. I heard a catcall. Or it might have been a caterwaul. Cats are God’s creatures too you know. I had to shoot him. I only shot him once.

  15. She might have a viable claim because Texas law allows the use of deadly force to protect personal property.

    Section 9.42 limits it to prevent only a few specified crimes, of which robbery, theft & criminal mischief are relevant here. The threat must also be imminent and the person must reasonably believe that their property can’t be protected or recovered any other way.

    Assuming she is the lawful owner of the cat, his threat to shoot the cat certainly qualifies as intentionally damaging or destroying her property without her consent under the criminal mischief statute, Section 28.03. It likewise qualifies as attempting to exercise unlawful control over (i.e. – to appropriate) her property under the theft statute, Section 31.03
    (definition at s.31.01(4)).

    Both of those, however, are further limited to nighttime incidents. It’s reported that this incident occurred around 7:30a. Sunrise in Houston was at 7:11a, so she may be out of luck. Miller v. State, 741 S.W.2d 501, 504 (Tex. App. 1987) (defense not allowed because the predicate crime occurred during the afternoon).

    Robbery doesn’t have any such hours of operation, but it requires the attacker to place another person in fear of serious injury or death (Section 29.02). She’d need to show he threatened her as well as her cat.

    In any event, a person might be justified in using deadly force to protect their pets in Texas under the right factual circumstances.

    It’s also worth noting that just yesterday, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to hear a case about whether pet owners can sue for emotional damages rather than just property value in the death of a pet. Down here in Florida, a family whose dog was shot & killed by a police officer recently received a $20,000 settlement from the City of Ft. Lauderdale. The owners argued that their pet was not just property, but a living member of the family.

  16. I know someone in NJ who, back in the 1970s, declared two dogs as dependents. I think she got away with it. Their names (the dogs) were Cindy and Toddy.

  17. indio007 said:

    ” the common law has long held that you cannot kill or maim in defense of property”

    You might want to inform the police of this.”

    Indio – You may be right with regards to Texas. But some states are literally changing the human from “owner” to “caretaker” with regards to creatures.

    And caretaker just might come with a whole new list of mandates.

  18. Upon introspection, as a recovering former-Catholic altar boy, I find it just a bit disconcerting that I’ve reached the point, where I actually believe some other lifeforms are more deserving of life than some humans.

    Not that we know enough in this case, ’bout the cat or the dude.

  19. It’s pretty well documented that people who choose to harm animals, especially smaller and domesticated animals, are basically cowardly scum and if using it as a threat, skank slinkin terrorists to boot. I suspect he was just another low life sociopath on the cusp of graduating to another level of harming human beans.

  20. When the husband came home (still in a hospital gown), he found that he was locked out. It was not clear if that was the work of his wife or the cats.
    ==========================================================
    The cats did it.

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