Ronald A. Beckwith of Southampton denies shooting neighbor’s cat with arrow
NORTHAMPTON — A 75-year-old Southampton man denied he intentionally shot a neighbor’s cat with an arrow when he was arraigned Friday in Northampton District Court.
Ronald A. Beckwith of 9 Grant Ave. pleaded not guilty to charges of animal cruelty and malicious maiming, killing or poisoning of an animal.
Southampton police filed the charges against Beckwith after a three-week investigation of a Sept. 13 incident where a cat belonging to the residents of 4 Grant Ave., Deborah Sholly and her son Ryan Cimineri, was shot with an arrow and had to be euthanized as a result of those injuries.
According to court documents, Cimineri reported to police Sept. 14 that he had come home the previous day to find his cat, named Kitty, with an arrow hanging out of a wound in one of its rear legs. He took the cat to the vet, where the family decided to put it down because they believed the alternative, amputation, would have prolonged its suffering.
Cimineri told police that Beckwith had made statements in the past about how he was annoyed with raccoons and cats taking fish out of the decorative ponds in his yard. Southampton police went to Beckwith’s home to interview him and search the home Sept. 23.
At his home they found bows, arrows and targets, including arrows that matched the one that was removed from the cat’s leg.
Beckwith, who could not be reached for comment, denied he shot any cat, although he later described Cimineri’s cat as a “problem cat” that bothered neighbors and their cats, even though police had not informed him which neighbor’s cat had been shot.
According to the documents, he later told police that he had seen two cats fighting in his yard and had shot an arrow at them “to scare them apart.” He said he didn’t think he hit the cat, but admitted he couldn’t find the arrow and said if he did hit a cat, it was by accident.
Cimineri also told police that about a year ago he had found a live baby raccoon in his yard with an arrow in it. He provided police with a photograph of the raccoon, and the arrow in the photograph also matched those belonging to Beckwith, police said.
Southampton police informed Massachusetts Environmental Police of the incident involving the raccoon and they may also investigate, court documents state.
Judge W. Michael Goggins ordered Beckwith released on his own recognizance with the condition that he stay away from the dead cat’s owners and their home.
Conviction on either the animal cruelty or malicious maiming charge is punishable by a state prison sentence of up to five years or a county jail sentence of up to two and a half years and a fine up to $2,500.
Beckwith will be back at a pretrial hearing on Dec. 5.
Rebecca Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.