Prosecutor: Area 19-Year-Old Pleads Guilty to Torture and Killing of Pet Cat

An area teen has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the 2023 torture and killing of his pet cat, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced on Wednesday.    

Appearing before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Chad N. Cagan yesterday, Bani J. Mezquititla, 19, of Asbury Park, pleaded guilty to animal cruelty by tormenting, torturing, or unnecessarily or cruelly abusing a living animal resulting in its death, and animal cruelty by using or causing or procuring the use of an animal or creature in any kind of sexual manner, both third-degree crimes.  

The case background …

An investigation into Mezquititla’s activities was initiated in March 2023, when a concerned citizen brought the body of a dead cat to Asbury Park Police Department headquarters.

Members of that agency and the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Humane Law Enforcement Division determined that the cat had belonged to Mezquititla, who allegedly first performed sexual acts on the animal, seriously injuring it. He is also alleged to have later restrained and tortured the cat, resulting in its death.

Mezquititla was located and arrested on the same day the investigation was initiated, then transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI). He remains incarcerated there as the case has progressed, as a motion by the state to keep him detained was granted.

This case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Keri-Leigh Schaefer and Sevan Biramian.

Sentencing in the case has been tentatively scheduled for Thursday, June 13, at which time the state is requesting a term of five years in state prison, the maximum allowable under either applicable statute, as well as restitution for the cost of the cat’s necropsy and an order permanently banning Mezquititla from ever again owning, living with, or having custody over any animal.  

— Edited press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office