Man pleads guilty to torturing girlfriend's cat


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URBANA — A Savoy man who admitted he tortured his girlfriend's cat faces the possibility of prison when he is sentenced next month.

Nathan Sitter, 24, who listed an address in the 800 block of Village Park Way, pleaded guilty Monday before Champaign County Judge Heidi Ladd to a single count of animal torture, admitting that he tried to strangle and drown the animal.

Assistant State's Attorney Tim Sullivan, laying out the facts for Ladd, said that when the owner of Mocha returned home on Dec. 4, she found her cat lifeless and cold.

She took the animal to the University of Illinois Small Animal Clinic, where numerous injuries to the cat were documented before it died several hours later. After the animal died, authorities at the clinic notified the Champaign County sheriff's office.

Sullivan said the girlfriend told deputies that Sitter did not like her cat and that he was home alone with it on that Friday while she was at work.

At the small animal clinic, professionals discovered that the cat's body temperature was 20 degrees below normal and that the cat had burst blood vessels in both eyes.

Despite their efforts to save the cat, Mocha died shortly after midnight on Dec. 4.

Sullivan said deputies later interviewed Sitter, who admitted that he tied a shoe lace around the cat's neck and swung the cat around by it. He also admitted that on Dec. 4 and on a prior occasion, he choked the cat.

He told deputies he put the cat in water on Dec. 4 to clean urine off of it, then later admitted he held the cat under water, brought it up for air and repeated that activity several times.

"In his own words, he told police he tortured Mocha," Sullivan said.

Ladd set sentencing for April 13. In exchange for Sitter's plea to the animal torture count, other charges of aggravated cruelty to animals were dismissed.

Sullivan said he intends to ask Ladd to sentence Sitter to four years in prison. Penalties for the offense of animal torture range from probation to two to five years in prison. Sullivan said Sitter has no known prior convictions.

Sitter is represented by Assistant Public Defender Janie Miller-Jones.


Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

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