Belpre man sentenced to jail for torturing pet

MICHELE NEWBANKS The Marietta Times Belpre resident Matthew Moyers listens quietly while waiting for sentencing Friday morning in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

A Belpre man was sentenced to 60 days in jail Friday for torturing his wife’s cat, which subsequently died from its injuries.

Matthew Robert Moyers, 41, of 2524 Oxbow Road, Belpre, was arrested on Nov. 30, 2018, and charged with four counts of Prohibitions Concerning Companion Animals. As part of a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to one of the counts, a fifth-degree felony.

Court documents show charges from the case stem from an investigation into a temporary restraining order violation. After obtaining a search warrant, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office discovered videos of a cat on Moyers’ phone. The cat, which belonged to Moyers’ wife Virginia, was being tortured.

“This type of case isn’t a case of neglect,” said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor David Silwani. “It was deliberate torture.”

One of the videos showed Moyers pulling the cat around the room, with duct tape covering the cat’s face and body. In the video, the cat is heard being thrown multiple times against other objects. Other videos include the cat struggling to move while soaking wet.

Moyers’ attorney, Beau Cross, said before the sentencing that his client admits to having issues with methamphetamine use, which causes him to act impulsively “and he makes horrible decisions.”

He noted his client worked six days a week with 14-hour days at Precision Pipeline. If his client were to receive jail time, it would cost him his job, which helps him be “more productive to society.”

During the sentencing, Judge Mark Kerenyi spoke of Moyers’ criminal behavior, dating back to his first arrest in 1996.

“The court finds he has not been rehabilitated,” he said. “He’s not shown general remorse.”

His arrest record showed he was a moderate risk of re-offending, he added.

Moyers will have to repay $200 to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for the necropsy performed on the animal. After his jail sentence is served, unless he gets a travel permit, he will not be able to leave the state for three years as part of the community control sanctions. He also received a $1,000 fine and an indefinite ban on owning companion animals.