Kristen Lindsey case: District Attorney’s statement deeply flawed and further investigation needed

By TIGER’S JUSTICE TEAM

The report shown below is a comprehensive analysis of District Attorney Travis Koehn’s press release of June 27, 2015, concerning the grand jury’s decision not to indict Kristen Lindsey. It is the viewpoint of Tiger’s Justice Team that there are numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, conflicting reports, errors, and omissions in the investigation. We urge that further investigation into this case begins immediately.


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Justice for tiger
Justice for Tiger
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The dubious statements by DA Koehn are shown in italics and as a quote. Remarks added by Tiger’s Justice Team are shown indented in bold.

DA Koehn’s Press Release:

“The investigation of Kristen Lindsey for charges of Animal Cruelty was presented to the Austin County Grand Jury on June 24, 2015. The Grand Jury returned a ‘No Bill’ in this case. A finding of ‘No Bill’ indicates the Grand Jury examined all the evidence and determined there was insufficient proof to charge Kristen Lindsey with a crime.”

“The Brenham Police Department initially referred the case to the Austin County Sheriff’s Office based upon one unsworn hearsay report that Lindsey may have acted to protect her pets from a potentially rabid stray cat in Austin County.”

  • In Sheriff Jack Brandes’ You Tube video of 4/17/15, he clearly stated his department was investigating an act of animal cruelty. At no time during the interview did he mention anything about a rabid cat, or about the suspect killing a rabid cat to protect her pets. (Source: You Tube video uploaded by KBTX)
  • DA Koehn cites “…one unsworn hearsay report…” as the basis for the investigation. This report must have been credible enough to warrant an investigation. The public wants to know: Why was there no further contact with the person who made this report? Or, if there was what was the outcome?
  • The Brenham Police Department reports: “However the City’s Animal Control Supervisor is in contact with the Austin County SO to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted.” What were the findings of the Animal Control Supervisor? Is there a written report?
  • If Lindsey had been concerned about a rabid animal, what steps did she take to protect her pets? Were they housed safely? Was she in compliance with local regulations?
  • Had any local authority warned residents about a rabid cat or other rabid animals?
  • Were any of Lindsey’s pets treated or quarantined, given the possibility that they may have been attacked before Lindsey became aware of the threat?
Lindsey in the dock!
Lindsey in the dock!

“After a thorough investigation, Sheriff’s Office investigators were unable to confirm where or when the incident took place. Without this information, officers lacked probable cause to obtain a search warrant for any Austin County properties in this matter.”

  • “Brenham police say the cat was shot in Austin County. The Austin County Sheriff’s Office tells News 3 they are investigating. Sheriff Jack Brandes says he sent deputies out to New Wehdem Road Friday morning where the incident occurred.” (Source: KBTX)
  • The public wants to know: If there were no evidence of a crime, then why was the case turned over to the district attorney in the first place?
    The Sheriff knew where to dispatch deputies, and the crime scene is marked on KBTX website map.
  • Kristen Lindsey’s Facebook photo displaying the dying cat showed comments from several people, including Tyson Probst and Callie Burch, both of whom praised Lindsey for the killing. Were they asked to make a statement? Kristen Lindsey’s mother, Becky Lindsey, admitted on the same thread that she took the photo. Was she questioned?
  • Were the cell phone service providers for any of the above persons contacted, or search warrants issued for their records?
  • Did the DA have an expert take a look at the apparent wound shown on the cat’s upper right hind leg?
  • Did the DA have an expert compare markings on the photo of the cat Lindsey killed to Tiger’s photos? There are several You Tube videos of Tiger which clearly show the markings on his coat.
  • Did the DA find it strange that along with the deleted Facebook account, Lindsey’s mother lost her phone with the incriminating evidence? What attempts were made by the DA to locate the “lost” phone?
  • Did the DA find it strange that the whereabouts of Tiger’s remains are unknown?
  • Did the DA consider that, if Lindsey had not been in Texas, then how could she be protecting her pets?
  • Does DA Koehn understand that in order for a picture to be digitally altered, there needs to be an original photo from which to make the changes? Did he question Lindsey about the original photo to bolster the claim of Sheriff Brandes that a photo can be changed by Photoshop?

“It is a defense to an Animal Cruelty charge if a person is protecting his or her own pets from an attack.”

  • The public wants to know: what evidence is there that Lindsey was trying to protect her pets from a cat attack? What pets? When? Where?
  • Was Kristen Lindsey’s employer, Dr. Bruce Buenger of Washington Animal Clinic, questioned? He has stated in public that Lindsey was fired for her act of cruelty. He did not fire her because she was trying to protect her pets or because of a supposedly rabid cat. He did not fire her because he believed she was innocent. (Source: KBTX)
  • The state of Texas has detailed protocol to follow in suspected rabies cases. As a veterinarian, Lindsey could have and should have followed correct procedures, which include humane trapping and quarantine. There would be a record of the case. Did DA Koehn bother to check for laboratory reports?

lindsey-4

“Although evidence is insufficient that an offense occurred here, both Austin and Washington counties are suffering from an outbreak of rabies cases, and at least one local resident is currently undergoing treatment after contact with a rabid animal.”

  • In the past 17 years, there has been only one documented case of a rabid cat in Austin County or Washington County, Texas. This occurred in 2012. (Source: Texas Department of State Health Services)
  • District Attorney Koehn does not indicate whether the supposed rabies victim was infected in or near Brenham, Texas, or if the bite occurred elsewhere. How did the DA learn of the rabies positive person?
  • The DA does not define what he means by an “outbreak.” If there were an outbreak in the Austin County/Washington County area, Brenham Animal Control is the agency to handle suspected cases of rabies. Were they even notified? Was any person from animal control contacted or questioned?
  • “…evidence is insufficient that an offense occurred…” This contradicts the statement of Sheriff Jack Brandes, who stated he was disturbed by Lindsey’s photo: “’This kind of thing shouldn’t happen in our society,’ Brandes said.” “It’s a very sad thing. Hopefully we will get to the bottom of it and get the truth, 100% truth, and get it to the DA and put it in his hands if it needs to go any further.” (Source: KBTX)
  • Clearly Sheriff Brandes believed an offense occurred.

“Subpoenas to Facebook failed to produce useable evidence, as the account was deleted the same day law enforcement became aware of the matter.”

  • Did DA Koehn contact a digital photo forensics expert? If so, who?
  • Were Kristen Lindsey’s Facebook supporters who praised the killing on Facebook posts even questioned?
  • Did DA Koehn obtain a search warrant for Facebook accounts of Lindsey and other involved parties? If so, when?
  • What attempts did he make to verify the authenticity of the photo?
  • Was any attempt made to determine who owned the phone displaying the comments by Lindsey’s friends? Was the cell phone provider contacted to obtain this data?
  • Did he question Becky Lindsey, who “lost” the smart phone on which the photo was taken?
  • Did he question Jack Lindsey, Kristen’s father, who was present when the crime occurred?
kristen Lindsey and her mother
Kristen Lindsey and her mother

“Without more information, the State lacks proof that this incident even occurred in the state of Texas. In some jurisdictions of the United States, hunting stray cats is expressly permitted. In the state of Wyoming, for example, citizens are permitted to hunt stray cats all year with very little restriction.”

  • This statement is completely irrelevant to the facts of the case, and only serves to aid Kristen Lindsey. Wyoming laws are irrelevant to crimes committed in Texas. Because it is not a crime in another state is not grounds for failing to enforce Texas law.
  • Did the DA bother to check for proof that Lindsey was in Texas at the time of the killing? Employment records, witness statements, receipts, and cell phone records could be used to establish whereabouts.
  • Did the DA make any effort to compare the background foliage in the picture to the local plant life? When Lindsey vacated the property owned by Cheryl Buenger, wife of Dr. Bruce Buenger, did the DA ask for permission to go on the property to match the location?

[W.S. 23-1-101(a)(viii)(A); W.S. 23-3-103J. If the State could prove an incident did occur in Texas, Texas Penal Code 42.092 essentially requires the State to prove that either 1) a defendant killed a stray cat in a cruel manner, or 2) a defendant killed a cat without the owner’s consent.

“First, the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines state that physical methods of killing animals such as a gunshot or bolt to the head can be humane when done correctly. (A.V.M.A. Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, 2013 Ed., at 11-12).”

  • This is a gross misrepresentation of AVMA euthanasia guidelines. The AVMA has publicly discredited this statement: “However, the AVMA does not support that claim in this situation. Sharon Granskog, assistant director of AVMA media relations, told dvm360 that the association was surprised by the reference to the 2013 edition of the Guidelines for Euthanasia of Animals, as AVMA was not asked to provide information regarding the case. Granskog says the attorney general’s interpretation of section 1.3.3 of the guidelines was inappropriate. ‘A captive bolt is a specific tool, and an arrow is not a captive bolt. Based on the image attributed to Dr. Lindsey and shared on social media, we cannot determine if the cat died immediately. Use of a bow and arrow is not addressed when discussing recommended approaches for the euthanasia of cat.’”

“When performed properly, the animal may exhibit involuntary movements but is unaware and unable to experience pain. ( A.V.M.A. Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals, 2013 Ed., at 16). Evidence is insufficient, based on the online photograph alone, to determine whether the animal was killed in a cruel manner. Second, investigators were never able to positively confirm the identity of the cat seen in the social media photograph.”

  • The DA was unable to rule out the possibility that the dying cat in the photo was Tiger.
  • The DA made no mention of the wound on Tiger’s upper right back leg. If he had in fact inspected the photo, this should have been noted; and at minimum, he should have refrained from describing the killing as “humane euthanasia.”
  • Lindsey’s own statements repudiate Mr. Koehn’s bizarre and inaccurate postulation that Lindsey was engaged in humane euthanasia: “My first bow kill lol The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s (sic) head.” Can anyone believe that the killing was an act of humane euthanasia?

“Although one witness believes the cat to be a pet named “Tiger,” three different area residents had fed similar looking cats at one time or another that had no collar and had strayed. Evidence was insufficient to positively identify an owner for the cat in the online photograph.”

  • “…at one time or another…” When did these 3 residents feed a cat with similar markings to Tiger? Did they report that the cat was showing symptoms of rabies?
  • How carefully were the markings on Tiger’s coat compared to the cat in the photo? Who made the comparison?
  • Where are Tiger’s remains?
Tiger a ginger cat
Tiger, the neighbor’s cat who is the cat allegedly killed by Lindsey.

The Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has the sole decision-making authority as to whether Kristen Lindsey retains her veterinary license. The Austin County District Attorney is not involved in that decision. Animal Cruelty is a disgusting and reprehensible act that the Austin County District Attorney’s Office strongly condemns.

“Contrary to some reports, this office has prosecuted and convicted Animal Cruelty offenders in the past.”

  • When? How many cases? How many convictions? Felony or Misdemeanor?
  • “This office. . .” Does that mean Koehn himself, or his predecessor, prosecuted animal cruelty cases?

However, the duty of this office, and the duty of the Grand Jury, is to make decisions based on the law and evidence in each individual case. The Austin County District Attorney’s office appreciates the hard work done by the Sheriff’s Office and the diligent service of the members of the Grand Jury and their careful review of the evidence. No further criminal action will be taken in this matter.”

Tiger’s Justice Team Closing Comments:

We believe that the rabid cat story to justify the killing of Tiger was fabricated sometime after the initial investigation, possibly to convince the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners that Kristen Lindsey did not violate the board’s regulations.

If Lindsey did act to protect her pets from a rabid cat attack, she could have mentioned this to the Sheriff’s deputies who attempted to question her.

The matter would have ended there. She could have turned over the cat’s remains to Brenham Animal Control, or sent them to the Austin lab for rabies testing, which is the correct procedure to follow.

An innocent person has no need to engage in such evasive and non-responsive actions. Lindsey’s love of killing animals is documented in her own words in her blog, “Life Writings from the Lazy Boot.”

The totality of the evidence must certainly lead a reasonable person to the conclusion that Lindsey’s killing of the cat believed to be a family pet named Tiger should be prosecuted as felony animal cruelty. Additionally, Lindsey’s act of discharging a deadly weapon in a residential neighborhood shows a reckless disregard for the safety of others.

We respectfully ask these questions because, at the very least, the appearance of impropriety is hanging over this case and the prosecutor.

Thank you for your consideration of these issues.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Anderson, Susan Olk Casella, Casie Cooper, Kelly Daleo, Leslie Honey, Jean Salyer, representatives of Tiger’s Justice Team


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13 thoughts on “Kristen Lindsey case: District Attorney’s statement deeply flawed and further investigation needed”

  1. Michael, there is a new federal law taking effect soon that enhances animal cruelty charges. It might be possible, I don’t really know, to file charges in a federal court to bypass the local Texas courts. Just a thought.

    Reply

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