Hung Jury Declared In Cat Killer Trial

A judge has declared a hung jury at the trial of a former minor league baseball player accused of beating, stomping and kicking his girlfriend's cat to death during a drunken fury.

Jurors struggled for five days over the charge of aggravated animal cruelty, a felony which carries a prison term of up to two years. They nodded, looking exhausted, when the judge asked Friday if future deliberations would be pointless.

The prosecution said Joseph Petcka complained that his girlfriend loved the cat more than she loved him. The defense said Petcka overreacted when he was bitten, but did not intentionally kill the declawed, 8-pound feline.

Petcka pitched in the New York Mets' minor league system in 1992. He later acted in a paper-towel commercial and had small roles in "Sex and the City" and other television shows.

Petcka testified last week that he was defending himself after the orange and white tabby named Norman bit his right hand and drew blood. He said Norman lunged at him with his paws outstretched and "his teeth were bared."

His attorney, Charles Hochbaum, argued that the animal cruelty law applies only in cases where animals are intentionally tortured with a sadistic intent to injure or kill.