Did he strangle cat to be merciful or cruel?

A man faces a felony charge after strangling a stray cat in front of a 10-year-old boy.

Published May 15, 2007

TOWN 'N COUNTRY - One stray cat was dead. Another looked Sunday as if it had been poisoned. Gayle Gasque, who had been feeding the strays, thought so. So did a neighbor on Fountainbleau Road, 44-year-old Buddy Lanard Cromwell.

Gasque thought about taking the cat to the vet.

Cromwell had another idea. He walked into the Gasques' yard, picked up the cat and squeezed his hands around the throat until it died, he admits.

"When I saw the thing suffering, " Cromwell said Monday, "I went over and did what I did and it was a mercy."

But Gasque's 10-year-old son saw it all, and the family called the Sheriff's Office.

Cromwell now faces a felony charge of animal torture. He had previously been arrested 20 times on charges of battery, DUI, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, burglary, aggravated assault and resisting arrest.

The Gasques were upset that their son watched the animal die.

"He was just really upset, crying, " said Clinton Gasque, the boy's father. "He wanted the guy to go to jail for murder."

He said he chased Cromwell out of their yard. Cromwell appeared intoxicated, he said.

Animal Services officer Ken Vetzel called the method of death "cruel" and said Cromwell seemed "nonchalant" about what he had done.

Cromwell said another neighbor had told him she poisoned the cats. He said he didn't remember her name.

Vetzel said Animal Services may investigate the poisoning angle further after a necropsy determines whether the cat was also poisoned.

Michael A. Mohammed can be reached at mmohammed@sptimes com or 813 226-3404.