It appears that Oregon police take fish murder more seriously than Texas police. We previously saw how police declined to charge a woman who fried and ate her ex-husband’s pet fish, here. Now, Donald Earl Fite III has pleaded guilty to stabbing Sarah Harris’ pet betta (Siamese fighting) fish, DeLorean, to death when she (inexplicably) declined to resume her relationship with him. DeLorean was found at the crime scene on the wooden floor with a knife in its back.
Harris had broken up with Fite but found him lying on her bed when she returned to her apartment on July 25th. He explained that he wanted to get back together, a proposition that she declined. He then shoved her against a wall, grabbed her hair and tossed her against a bathtub. She fled only to find the corpus de-fishy on the floor.
In a moment fit for a crime novel, Fite reportedly told an officer, “If she can’t have me, then she can’t have the fish.”
Fite, 27, has now pleaded guilty Tuesday to animal abuse and domestic violence assault. He was sentenced to 2 years of probation, 80 hours of community service and $617 in fines and court costs.
His attorney, Tom Macnair, tried to explain that the killing of the fish was a “very low point” in Fite’s life. Not to mention an even lower point in DeLorean’s life. Yet, Macnair insisted that “[h]e is absolutely mortified and ashamed about what he did to the fish.”
In an interesting twist, prosecutor Eric Zimmerman told Judge Eric Bergstrom that Harris wanted to get a memorial tattoo and wanted Fite to pay for it. Bergstrom wisely declined that request.
What was even more intriguing is Zimmerman’s bizarre request that Fite be ordered to stay away from fish. There is no allegation that Fite is a mad serial fish killer, stalking the local fish mongers and plotting unspeakable massacres at the city aquarium. It is not even clear that Zimmerman was speaking of live fish. The order would have kept Fite out of any restaurant — particularly with live fish on display. (I assume that lobsters and other crustaceans would not be covered). Once again, Bergstrom had the sense to decline this fishy protective order.
I am still, however, left with the impression that Texas is soft on fish crime given its treatment of a true serial fish killer.
Ultimately, Harris could sue for intentional infliction of emotional distress and conversion as well as trespass. That should pay for a whole school of memorial fish tattoos.