Petcka’s Pet Problem: Actor and Former N.Y. Mets Player Joseph Petcka on Trial for Killing Girlfriend’s Cat

Former Mets minor leaguer and sometime actor Joseph Petcka is on trial for killing his girlfriend’s 8-year-old tabby, Norman. It is a good example of such cases where both criminal and civil charges can be brought. His former girlfriend Sports Illustrated reporter Lisa Altobelli insists that it was intentional while Petcka insists that it was an accident.

Prosecutors alleged that Petcka killed Norman after arguing with Altobelli (who left the apartment around 3 .am.). He had allegedly woke up Altobelli to tell her that Norman had tried to bite him.

Norman was found later with a variety of severe injuries from broken teeth to broken ribs to a broken leg to a torn tongue. There was also massive internal injuries and a chest cavity filled with blood.

He had been drinking heavily on that night of March 27, 2007.

His lawyer insists that, when the cat tried to swat him, he hit the cat but did not intend to kill. He further complains that, absent the high publicity, the case would have been pleaded out without a significant sentence. His client now faces up to two years.

Altobelli told police that Petcka had previously complained: “You love that cat more than you love me.”

We discuss these cases in my torts class. The killing of pets is tragically common after break-ups or fights among couples. Such cases can result in lawsuits for intentional infliction of emotional distress as well as criminal charges. Indeed, it will be interesting to see if Altobelli sues. However, Petcka appears to have little in terms of assets. While he did act in a few episodes of shows like Sex in the City, he is currently working as a bartender. Certainly a job at Petco for Petcka appears unlikely.

For the full story, click here and here.

48 thoughts on “Petcka’s Pet Problem: Actor and Former N.Y. Mets Player Joseph Petcka on Trial for Killing Girlfriend’s Cat”

  1. lol

    I hope Hochbaum’s e-mail gets crashed so bad he has to open a new account. That is why I do not practice. Too many Hochbaum’s and not enough Turley’s to make a difference anymore. People like him help make the legal system as dysfunctional as it is. What he really meant was “he sleeps well at night knowing the check cleared the bank.”

    Guys like Petcka are indeed more likely to kill a human. The first step serial killers often take is killing animals. Ask any psychiatrist who deals with dangerous socio-psychopaths. My friends at Menninger agree with me on this subject. He deserves court ordered treatment at a MINIMUM. If Hochbaum was interested in JUSTICE rather than billable hours, that’s what he’d have gotten too instead of bombarding the court with paper until he walked.

    Thanks, bb.

  2. Spindell sums it up succinctly.VERY well said!

    Now…On the subject of animal abuse….countless psych studies have CONCLUDED that humans who torture, kill, etc. helpless (domesticated) animals, are 100 times more likely to do the same to a human (especially a weaker Human…i.e., child, woman, so on)than those who strongly feel it is wrong.
    Creatures like this waste-of-breath, Petcka, should be locked up and put into a heavy duty psych treatment program. He is one dangerous dude. Cannot believe so many fail to see that?

  3. This discussion has turned insane. I’ve been a cat owner for more than forty years, I have two now. Prior to that I always had dogs, as did my family. I love animals and I especially love cats and dogs. Also I agree with one writer’s sentiments that animals in general are more sentient than we humans give them credit for being.

    All that being said the reactions of some of the posters that this jerk should be put to death reach a level of absurdity that is hard to stomach. Killing a cat, loathsome as that is, should not be a capital crime. Yet, there of course should be severe penalties for doing so. That he seems to have done this as a means of punishing his girlfriend should somehow add to the penalty. Killing him though, in whatever of the many forms herein suggested, is just plain dumb and betrays someone who’s own sense of reality is questionable. No, by the way, I wouldn’t want to kill someone who killed one of my cats, but I’d make damn sure that person was punished to the extent of criminal and civil law.

    Rafflaw’s comment though, comparing the outrage over this story to the lack of attention to the cruelties initiated by an unnecessary and illegal war, bears repetition. To date the US has allowed over 4,000 of our troops to be killed, 25,000 severely maimed, killed at least 100,000 Iraqi’s, opted out of the Geneva Conventions, abrogated the right of habeas corpus and made torture a commonplace American tactic. Yet there would be more outrage by our citizens over the death of cats and dogs (see Michael Vick), than about these horrors inflicted upon another nation for no reason whatsoever. What has happened to our sense of values?

  4. I hope he gets the max penalty…and even that wouldn’t be penalty enough. The courts and judges need to wake up and stop patronizing these actor and sports figures… talk about bad role models for our kids… It makes me sick that I live on the same planet with this ‘person’ that obviously has no soul.

  5. RobbyScruggs
    1, September 19, 2008 at 7:53 pm
    As a southern, I love my guns and the first time he hit me id turn him from a rooster to a hen with one shot.


    This is getting bizzare.

    So as “a southern”, you’d bring a gun to a fist fight?

  6. I for oen would like to give this guy the same treatment he gave this poor, loving cat. I have 2 that I rescued and I beleieve that if you hurt an animal, a child or an elderly person that you arent worth the air they breathe. If he is so freakin tough and wanna hit soemone or soemthing, then come hit me cuz I promise you i’ll be th elast thing he hits. As a southern, I love my guns and the first time he hit me id turn him from a rooster to a hen with one shot. That’d be fair justice, then he wouldnt have to find some dumb bimbo to live with, no gal would want a guy whos missing his wedding tackle. Am I right?

  7. I like cats too, but all this talk of murdering the guy makes me wonder if this isn’t where the republicans got the word “moonbat”.


    They just must have misinterpreted the “b”.

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