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Parolee faces trial for cat's killing

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

January 31. 2018 9:27PM
George Abbott of Manchester arrives for a hearing in Hillsborough County Superior Court on animal cruelty charges related to the death of his cat. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)



George Abbott of Manchester arrives for a hearing in Hillsborough County Superior Court on animal cruelty charges related to the death of his cat. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — A 70-year-old man who had been out on parole for a 1984 murder conviction will face trial next month on a felony charge of animal cruelty for allegedly slitting his cat’s throat.

On Wednesday, George W. Abbott appeared briefly in Hillsborough County Superior Court-North, where his lawyer and a county prosecutor worked out trial dates with a judge. Both sides said that efforts for a plea bargain had collapsed.

“It’s incredibly disturbing to animal owners. It’s not simply the taking of a cat’s life, it was the manner it was taken,” Assistant County Attorney Nicole Schultz-Price said.

But Abbott’s lawyer said “it’s not against the law to kill your own animal,” and welcomed a trial.

If the case does go to trial, it will be the second time Abbott faces a jury.

In 1984, a jury found Abbott guilty of the second-degree murder of David Staples in the Manchester apartment that the two shared.

Abbott tried to convince the jury he was insane at the time of the crime, a defense tactic the jury rejected. During the trial, several people testified about his strange behavior.

“The defendant has a long history of mental illness and has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals during the past twenty years,” reads a 1985 New Hampshire Supreme Court decision that rejected his appeal. His appeals in federal court were also rejected.

He was sentenced to 15 years to life, making him eligible for lifelong parole in 1999. Corrections Department spokesman Jeffrey Lyons said records from the 1980s and 1990s are confusing, and he can’t pinpoint when Abbott was released on parole.

But a parole revocation hearing was held in mid-September 2017 for a technical parole violation in July. Lyons said state law prohibits him from disclosing the violation.

Abbott was returned to state prison on Oct. 12. Lyons said the Adult Parole Board issued a 12-month sanction, meaning Abbott will be released from incarceration and returned to parole in July.

Court records said Abbott was living at 51 Laurel St., Apt. 2, at the time of the alleged crime. Schultz-Price said the cat was killed in the apartment, as far as she knows.

Abbott is charged with a Class B felony, which calls it a crime to cruelly whip, torture, or mutilate any animal. “The intention to torture the animal makes it cruel. He used a knife to cut the cat’s throat,” she said. Schultz-Price said she took over the case from a prosecutor who left the office; plea negotiations were incomplete at the time.

Schultz-Price said she wouldn’t allow Abbott to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. She estimated that a trial will take three days. Jury selection is slated for March 20.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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