Cat death by arrow brings community service, fine

WINCHESTER — A Middletown man was allowed to go free in Frederick County Circuit Court after he agreed to pay a $500 fine and perform 100 hours of community service for killing a neighbor’s pet cat with a bow and arrow.

Hunter Douglas Mundy entered an Alford plea to misdemeanor cruelty to an animal, a plea in which the defendant accepts that the prosecution has enough evidence to convict him, but he continues to maintain his innocence.

The sentence also includes one year of unsupervised probation and a one-year suspended jail sentence.

Authorities say Mundy deliberately shot the cat with an arrow when it ventured on to his property. The cat, which was owned by Gary and Luisa Nichols of Middletown, later died from its wound with the arrow still in it.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicholas Manthos told Circuit Judge Ronald Napier that the prosecution agreed to settle the case as a result of differing stories from witnesses about why Mundy shot the cat.

Mundy and his witnesses would have insisted that the cat’s death was an accident, Manthos said, adding that none of those witnesses actually saw the shooting. The cat, named Tata, walked unexpectedly in front of a board that Mundy was using as target practice.

Manthos said that he had a witness who would have testified that Mundy bragged at work about shooting the cat.

“This is the basis for (the plea agreement) rather than go to trial, the juxtaposition of the evidence,” Manthos said.

Napier accepted the plea agreement.

“This seems like a very appropriate disposition to me,” Napier said.

Gary Nichols said in an interview at his home that the outcome of the case struck a fair balance between his desire to see some recognition that Mundy had behaved wrongly while sparing him the hardship of a jail sentence. Mundy was originally charged with torturing an animal to death, a class six felony.

“I’m kind of pleased,” Nichols said. “I don’t want to ruin somebody else’s life, but that cat did suffer.”

Nichols said he was happy to discover that Tata produced several offspring who were born after his death to a female who had been sharing space with him in a garage. Nichols said he could tell the kittens were Tata’s from their markings. The female and her litter remain with the family today.

“He left his mark on the world,” Nichols said of Tata.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com