Joseph Petcka, a brawny, blue-eyed actor and former Mets minor league relief pitcher, is on trial for brutally bludgeoning ex-girlfriend Lisa Altobelli‘s cat to death.
Norman, an orange tabby named after the character “Norm” on the television show Cheers, was just a “mean, nasty cat” according to Petcka, who claims he killed the cat in self-defense.
“The cat had always hissed and growled at me as I was being nice to him,” Petcka told ASPCA cops when he was arrested in April 2007. “I don’t know why he attacked me, as I always wanted to keep my distance from him.”
Petcka believes he was justified in kicking the cat after Norman bit him on the hand.
State law allows committing an act of violence against an animal – if the animal has it coming.
Altobelli, a reporter for Sports Illustrated and the cat’s bereaved owner, tells a much different story than Petcka’s self-defense tale.
On the witness stand, Altobelli told jurors Petcka was fixated on Norman for some reason, even writing in his diary that he “made progress with Norman, and that someday he thought he’d let him pet him.”
Petcka was drunk and getting drunker on the night of March 27, 2007, in her Greenwich Street apartment, according to Altobelli. She went to bed to avoid him and fell asleep hearing him calling “Norman . . . Norman!” in a singsong voice, she told cops.
She woke up to find Petcka jamming his knee into her back and screaming, “Your cat bit me! What are you going to do about it?” and “You love that cat more than you love me!” He then threatened to put the cat in the microwave and nuke him.
Altobelli told jurors she fled the apartment hoping Petcka would cool down. When she returned the next morning, she knew something was terribly wrong when Norman didn’t come running to the door. The cat’s food, fur and feces were everywhere, she said.
She found Norman’s body in his “special spot” under her bedroom nightstand where he hid when scared.
“He was dead,” she sobbed. “I put my hand there and he was just cold and stiff. I pulled him out.” Then she stopped, unable to continue.
View photos of Joseph Petcka’s wounds, Norman the cat and Lisa Altobellie below.