A trial date is expected to be set on Thursday in a controversial animal cruelty case involving Bastrop pastor Rick Bartlett.
Did Moody jump off the bridge or was he thrown off the bridge?
That’s not known, but what is known is that Bartlett was the last person seen in possession of Moody.
Bartlett trapped Moody on his property on January 15, 2012. He placed Moody in a cage in the back of his pickup truck. Bartlett later admitted that he left Moody trapped in the cage for two days without any food or water.
On January 17 Bartlett drove the caged cat to the Bastrop County Animal Control office and met with Officer Susan Keys.
Bartlett told Keys that he often trapped cats in his yard that he considered feral and brought them to Animal Control.
But Moody wasn’t a feral cat. Officer Keys noticed Moody’s collar and name tag and she told Bartlett to return the cat to the Bell family, Moody’s owner (and Bartlett’s neighbor).
According to Bastrop Police Detective Sarah Moore, Bartlett told the officer “he would just go home and release the cat in the neighborhood.”
Later that evening Keys was told about a dead cat that was found underneath the Hwy 150 bridge.
A veterinarian later told investigators, “Moody’s injuries were caused from a compressive force caused from falling from a high level.”
When investigators caught up with Bartlett, he stated that Moody had escaped from the cage and he didn’t know what had happened to him.
Bartlett later confessed that he was “extremely stressed and angry because of personal issues” and he “untied the bungee chord the cage was attached to and opened the door to the cage and drove off with the intentions of the cat jumping out of the vehicle while he was driving off.”
Bartlett believes he is innocent and will stand trial for animal cruelty. He didn’t respond to an email and phone call from me asking for his side of the story.
Bartlett is the former pastor for the Bastrop Christian Church. He was cut lose from the church after his arrest and has now reportedly set up a new church out of his home.
The pastor has more than just a criminal trial to worry about. Moody’s owners Sarah and Eddie Bell are suing Bartlett.
“We are moving forward with our claim that Bartlett is responsible, through malice or gross negligence, for Moody’s death,” said the Bell’s attorney Bill Aleshire.
“The courts (civil and criminal) will never provide healing for the Bell family. Only if Mr. Bartlett openly and honestly explained what happened, showed sincere remorse, and took appropriate responsibility for his actions could the healing process occur.”
Moody’s death made national headlines last year and it was one of the more heavily commented stories for The Digital Texan. People don’t tend to get as worked up about the murder of innocent human beings as they do for the deaths of house pets.
Sarah and Eddie Bell launched on online petition titled “Justice for Moody.” The petition has gathered 6,650 signatures at last count.
The Bell family and their supporters want Pastor Bartlett to serve hard time for the crime. But the reality is that if convicted, Bartlett won’t looking at a stint at Huntsville.
Many in the community have emailed The Digital Texan asking why justice hasn’t been served a year after the alleged crime. Bastrop County District Attorney Bryan Goertz says that “the wheels of justice turn slowly.”
“This is typical for a case like this and animal cruelty cases aren’t given a priority over other cases,” said Goertz.