Norman Evasion: Mistrial Declared in Baseball Player Joe Petcka’s Pet Problem

A New York judge has declared a hung jury at the trial of a former minor league baseball player and actor Joseph Petcka for his alleged beating, stomping and kicking his girlfriend’s cat to death during a drunken fury. The jury deliberated for five days on the charge of aggravated animal cruelty in the death of Norman.

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.

It is unclear whether the prosecutors will re-try the case, though even a prosecution (let alone a re-trial) remains a rarity in such cases. They are, however, considering a re-trial. What does seem certain is that Petcka will have trouble “getting lunch in this town” again after the trial. It appears that he will be fortunate to keep his bartender job after all of the bad press.

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6 thoughts on “Norman Evasion: Mistrial Declared in Baseball Player Joe Petcka’s Pet Problem”

  1. I find this absolutely disgusting. I’m outraged what a psycho! That guy needs serious anger management. He deserves time away and to have a dude that’s bigger then him to kick his ass! I just cant believe someone would do such a thing. There is seriously something mentally wrong with him. I hope this affects his career and the rest of his life and that he seeks help for his serious anger issues.

  2. Obama-sama:

    “Most 2L’s could have won this case.”


    Most medical students could have won that case!

  3. And methinks mespo may be being a bit hard on the jurors.

    How about that brilliant prosecution, huh?

    Most 2L’s could have won this case.

  4. So let me get this straight. And let’s forget the romance angle for just one second.

    A 12#-ish non-poisonous animal tried to bite a 180#-ish “man” so that was an excuse for beating the animal to death. That doesn’t fly even if the animal WASN’T a pet. The very definition of disproportionate response and selfishness. That’s so ethically wrong both Jesus and Buddha would smack you in the back of the head for just thinking about it. Mohamed would rhetorically state, “Dude, what kind of sorry ass excuse for a man are you?”

    Trouble getting lunch?

    If he spends the next year dodging severe beatings, that’s karma.

    If he gets eaten by a tiger, that’s justice.

    If he were attacked and beaten by the ghost of Erwin Schrödinger, that would be both funny and justice.

  5. Let me play juror for a moment with the evidence at hand. Drunken, live-in, narcissistic athlete-boyfriend, jealous of affection shown to paramour’s cat, says the animal’s multiple injuries ( broken teeth, broken ribs, broken leg and torn tongue. … [M]assive internal injuries and a chest cavity filled with blood) were the result of an irresistible impulse to swat the cat away as it tried to bite him during his sleep. We also know that he had been arguing with the cat’s loving owner, and that all this fun occurred around 3 am.

    Yep, too tough for me. By the way, does anyone know if I can get a real estate license in New York. I’ve got the listing on the Brooklyn Bridge and I know 12 folks who, I am willing to bet, would love to buy it.

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