An anonymous tip led investigators to the crime scene in an animal-abuse case.
A cash reward led to the capture and eventual conviction of two of three people who police say were involved in the scalding of a cat that was found dead the day after it was burned in December.
Tuesday, a Moss Point judge sentenced two defendants, a nephew and uncle, on aggravated and simple animal abuse charges after a video surfaced that showed a cat trapped in a cage being doused with scalding water.
Municipal Judge Keith Miller sentenced Laderrick Rostchild to six months in jail and fined him $2,500. It’s the harshest possible sentence in the state for aggravated animal abuse.
Laderrick’s uncle, Larry Rostchild, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $1,000.
In the hour-long trial, Moss Point police Investigator Jennifer Rollins said investigators learned where the scalding of the cat took place via an anonymous tip. When they got to the home in the 6000 block of Henry Street in Moss Point, Rollins said she asked Karmen Coleman for consent to search the house, which she gave.
“We found a number of items there that we took as evidence,” Rollins said.
After searching the house, Rollins said she saw the cat about 60 to 65 feet away. She said it was alive at the time, but it was too scared to let her approach it.
“I could tell it was severely injured. It was definitely alive. It was, I don’t know, I guess you could say it was limping,” she said. “It was storming pretty bad that night and it got under a nearby house.”
The next day, Rollins said a resident recovered the cat, which had died.
Laderrick Rostchild’s defense attorney, Cameron McCormick, argued because no one came forward to claim the cat, it’s not entitled to the same protections as “pets” or “domesticated animals.”
“Your honor, it’s impossible to say harm was done because stray cats aren’t covered under the statute, so it really doesn’t fall into that category,” he said.
McCormick also attempted to cast doubt on Rollins’ timeline of events.
“Isn’t it possible that the cat could have been hit by a car before it died later? Isn’t it possible someone else could have thrown water on it?” McCormick said.
Later in the trial, Coleman took the stand, pointed at Laderrick Rostchild and said he poured the boiling water on the cat. Coleman, who authorities said recorded the abuse and posted the video to Snapchat, is accused of rendering criminal assistance. She pleaded not guilty Tuesday and her court date had not been set.
Miller imposed on Laderrick Rostchild the maximum allowed by law. The judge ordered both men to 200 hours of community service at the Jackson County Animal Shelter in Gautier. They are required to report for service within 72 hours after their release from jail.
Doll Stanley is a member of the In Defense of Animals organization, which runs the Mississippi-based Justice for Animals campaign. IDA put up a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Laderrick Rostchild.
The reward led to a tip as to who was involved in the case.
Tuesday, Stanley drove more than five hours from North Mississippi to attend the trial. Although aggravated animal abuse is not considered a felony in Mississippi, Stanley said she “was thrilled” with the outcome of the case.
“Once people realize there’s teeth in the law, that if you harm an animal, it’s going to bite you in the pocket and you may go to jail,” she said. “It won’t stop all of it, but it will stop it from happening as much.”