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DECATUR — A Decatur man seen in a Facebook post holding his pet cat off the ground with his hand clenched around its neck pleaded guilty Thursday to a charge of the depiction of animal cruelty.

Skyler M. Justison, 20, appeared in Macon County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 18 months' probation. He was also banned from being the “primary caregiver of any animal.”

The guilty plea was part of a deal negotiated by Justison’s public defender, Caleb Brown. First Assistant State’s Attorney Nichole Kroncke said the amended charge of depiction of animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor, fit better with what was seen in the online picture. 

Speaking to the Herald & Review afterward, she said Justison claimed his cat was never actually hurt and a vet who checked the animal over said it showed no evidence of injury.

A sworn affidavit from the Macon County Sheriff’s Office said law enforcement was alerted to the Facebook image by a woman who runs a feline rescue center in Stoney Point, N.Y. She had seen the post on the Facebook page of a friend and made inquiries.

“She reached out to her Facebook friend, who was not involved in the abuse, but knew of it happening in Decatur, as well as who did it,” said Sgt. Matt Reynolds, the Macon County Animal Control and Care Center administrator.

The woman in Stoney Point forwarded the image to animal control, and Justison was found and arrested Sept. 7.

“Justison admitted to holding up his cat by the neck while he took a Snapchat photo of it approximately one month previous,” Reynolds said. “Justison admitted to sharing the photo on his Snapchat account, which has approximately 130 followers.”

Justison’s cat, which Reynolds also said was unharmed, was confiscated by animal control officers.

Speaking to the Herald & Review Thursday, Reynolds said the young cat, white with dark markings, will be available for adoption soon. He said the cat was thin when it was brought in but has since gained weight.

“The cat will not be going back to Mr. Justison,” Reynolds said.


2019 mug shots from the Herald & Review

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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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Macon County Courts Reporter

Macon County courts reporter for the Herald & Review.

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