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The Bizarre Reason a Texas Pastor Is on Trial
Photo Credit: KVUE

The Bizarre Reason a Texas Pastor Is on Trial

"I don't believe in Heaven anymore, Moody's just dead."

The Rev. Rick Bartlett, a Texas-based faith leader, is at the center of an odd case surrounding the death of a cat named Moody. Bartlett, 56, is accused of abusing the feline and taking actions that purportedly led to its demise. Mainly, it is believed by some of his critics that Bartlett threw the cat off of a bridge. He has been charged with animal cruelty.

This bizarre case has been going on since Jan. 2012, as UPI notes. It was at that time that Bartlett was arrested after the cat passed away. Moody's owners are Bartlett's neighbors, Sarah and Eddie Bell; they have filed a lawsuit over the matter.

KHOU-TV has more about the curious story:

Rick Bartlett, pastor of the Bastrop Christian Church, is facing animal cruelty charges. Bastrop Police Chief Michael Black said Bartlett admitted that he caught the cat, named Moody, in a trap on Sunday, Jan. 15. Bartlett told them that he was having a problem with feral cats in his garden.

Moody also told police that he had the cat in a cage in the back of his pick-up truck for three days and forgot about him until Tuesday, Jan. 17., when Bartlett brought the cat to police. An animal control officer  noticed a name tag including the phone number of Moody’s owners, Sarah and Eddy Bell, on the cat's collar. The officer offered to take Moody back to his owners but police said Bartlett told them he’d take the cat back himself since they were his neighbors.

Later on the same day, a park visitor discovered Moody’s near lifeless body on the bank of the Colorado River, some 40-50 feet below a bridge.

The prime allegation is that the pastor, who has since resigned from the church he was presiding over, either was negligent or deliberately took actions that led to the cat's injuries and subsequent death. A separate lawsuit claims that the animal fell 40 feet from a bridge onto a walking trail, UPI adds.

Photo Credit: KVUE

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for "Justice for Moody." And the Bell family is having a difficult time understanding why the family's cat of 11 years was lost. The couple's five-year-old daughter has apparently struggled profoundly in coping with the incident.

"She also asked me where Moody is now and I said, 'Baby he's in Heaven,'" explained Sarah. "She knows the man who did this is a pastor at the Bastrop Christian Church and she said, 'I don't believe in Heaven anymore, Moody's just dead.'”

During the trial, which began on Monday, Bartlett's attorney maintained that he had nothing to do with the cat's death. The jury that will decide the misdemeanor case consists of five men and one woman. Testimony will resume on Thursday. Read more about the odd case over at the Austin American-Statesman.

(H/T: Religion News Blog)

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