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U.S. man to face trial in fatal arrow attack on neighbor's cat

A man who allegedly killed a neighbor's cat with a bow and arrow will be tried on animal cruelty charges, a judge ruled Monday.

Robert Eugene Brunner has pleaded not guilty to charges related to the killing of the 3-year-old tabby named Bill. He could face more than four years if convicted.

The cat was found near his owner's home in suburban San Diego with metal arrows in its neck and back the morning of April 12, 2006. The cat died two days later after undergoing surgery.

"This cat suffered horribly," Deputy District Attorney Katherine Flaherty said after the hearing.

According to a prosecution witness, Brunner said he fired the arrows at the cat because it was urinating in his yard.

"He said he shot it with arrows and it was stuck to the tree," witness Deena Marie Thornton testified Monday at the preliminary hearing.

Brunner's attorney said Thornton may have been motivated by a cash reward for information about the cat's case.

"He says he didn't do it," said Cherie Brenner.

Brunner faces two animal-cruelty charges. He was jailed on $75,000 (EUR 54,300) bond in June, when he pleaded not guilty to two counts of maliciously or intentionally killing an animal and one count of animal abuse.

Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman dismissed one of the shooting counts after Brunner's defense attorney argued he could not be held separately liable for each arrow found in the cat.

Brunner, who was already in custody on an unrelated probation violation in a domestic violence case when the animal abuse charges were filed, faces up to four years and eight months in prison if convicted, Flaherty said.

Brunner was ordered to return to court on Aug. 20 to get a trial date.