A woman arrested in January for reportedly fatally stabbing her ex-boyfriend’s cat and stealing paintings from the man’s home pleaded no contest to felony animal cruelty, a charge for which she will likely serve five years of felony probation. Nellie Palacios, 43, was never charged related to the burglary allegations, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Palacios will be sentenced on June 5 in Santa Maria.
In the incident, Palacios’s current boyfriend accompanied her to her ex-boyfriend’s house, which she told him belonged to her cousin. He said he remained outside the Orcutt house but went inside intermittently and saw Palacios taking paintings off the walls and then choking and stabbing the cat with a kitchen knife. He called 9-1-1 and left.
Deputies arrived and found Palacios in the backyard and the cat dead inside a doghouse; a knife covered in blood and fur was found nearby. Palacios claimed self-defense against the cat and was treated at the hospital for scratches before being booked into County Jail at $50,000 bail.
Under her agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, Palacios will receive credit for the 25 days she served in jail against her five years of probation. For 18 months, she will also participate in the Dual Diagnosis Treatment Court, which serves people dealing with mental illness and drug abuse.
District Attorney Joyce Dudley released a statement about the case. “Our office is committed to prosecuting animal abuse crimes because of both the serious nature of the crime itself, and because of the strong correlation between animal abuse and other violent crimes,” she said. “The treatment court team is an important part of our criminal justice system because they have the training to focus on individuals who are mentally ill and engaging in substance abuse, in an effort to seek the cause of the defendant’s criminal behavior.”