MIAMI (CBS/AP) During a court appearance Monday afternoon, 18-year-old Tyler Hayes Weinman, the man accused of killing and mutilating 19 cats, was slapped with a $249,500 bail by a Florida judge, who also said he must undergo a psychiatric evaluation and wear a monitoring device if he is released.
Weinman, who was arrested Sunday, was charged with 19 counts of animal cruelty and improperly disposing of an animal body and four counts of burglary.
Several Miami-Dade communities had been terrorized for about a month by a serial killer that reportedly murdered and skined cats. It's not clear in which order. Police believe some of the dead cats were killed by dogs or other predators.
If convicted, Weinman, a recent high school graduate, could face a maximum sentence of 158 years in prison, State Attorney's Office spokeswoman Terry Chavez said.
Weinman's attorney David Macey said his client had been kept awake for 24 hours and interrogated for eight hours, saying his client's case was being run with a "lynch mob mentality." Police have kept most of the details of the investigation under wraps.
"It's trial by ambush," Macey, said. "It's anything goes so that they can have a body, a warm body, to solve these cat killings. My heart and my sympathy goes out to the owners of these pets, but unfortunately, it won't provide them any relief that Tyler's in custody. Tyler is innocent."
Authorities said they had been watching Weinman for some time. On his prom night a few weeks ago, authorities whisked Weinman away in his tuxedo for an interview.
Police have also said the investigation is still open and hinted at the possibility of more arrests, but declined to name other suspects.
An arrest report shows Weinman was arrested for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license on May 15 in a separate incident, just days after authorities said their investigation into the cat killings began. He was also twice arrested as a juvenile, but authorities have not released the details of those cases.
"The cat killings weren't something I expected of anyone who's sane," said friend Vincent Warger, 18. "With him he was a nice guy. He was friendly. It's such a violent thing. I just couldn't see it happening from him."
Friend Elliot Evins lives in the same neighborhood where many of the cats were killed and has two cats himself.
"He is not an angry person in the least bit. He's never erupted on anyone or shown anything that would make me nervous or be anything related to what he's accused of," Evins said of Weinman.
Experts say cruelty toward cats, as opposed to other animals, can fulfill a deeper need for control. Cats, unlike dogs, can be more difficult to control. They don't come when they're called and are often more independent, said Dr. Randall Lockwood of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and author of "Forensic Investigation of Animal Cruelty."