"The crucial part of this is the admission by the defendant" that he poured boiling water on a squirrel, said McHenry County Circuit Judge Charles Weech. "It ties it all together."
John Grivas, 76, of the 100 block of Ellsworth Street was ordered to serve one year of court supervision, fined $250 and told to donate $250 to the Illinois Conservation Foundation. Grivas, who could have received a year in jail for the misdemeanor, declined to comment.
The judge dismissed a charge of unlawful trapping against Grivas.
During the bench trial in the Woodstock courthouse, Betty Bill testified that on Jan. 8, 2006, she watched Grivas, her next-door neighbor, place a wire-mesh trapping cage in his back yard. He stood over it with a camper's tea kettle, she said.
Grivas tipped the kettle over the cage in a pouring motion three times, she said. Although Bill said she couldn't tell what kind of animal was in the cage, she testified she saw a tail moving wildly.
"I freaked out," said Bill, who stopped several times to compose herself. "I was holding myself and saying, `Oh my God! Oh my God!"'
Grivas took the cage to an alley behind his house, Bill said. She found the squirrel curled up in a ball in her yard, its fur matted down and wet.
Conservation Officers Tom Davis and Jeffrey Kelley said they noticed red welts and patches of missing fur on the animal and believed it was dead. When the squirrel twitched, Kelly hit it with a baton so that it wouldn't suffer, he said.
[Oh yes. It's lying there, needing help. And this cop beats it in the head with a baton. What a moron. On top of the fact that it could have been taken to a vet and possibly saved, it is also EVIDENCE!!]
The officers said they asked Grivas why he poured boiling water on it.
"He responded that he was just so mad at them for chewing the window sills," Kelley testified.
Patrick Walsh, Grivas' attorney, argued that prosecutors didn't have any evidence tying the squirrel to his client. The only thing Bill saw was a tail, Walsh said.
"We have a tail," he said. "Did it belong to a fox or a skunk, a red squirrel or a gray squirrel?"
Walsh argued that police did not take any photos of the squirrel or tissue samples to connect its injuries to a scalding.
"Where's the squirrel, Judge?" Walsh said.
Davis testified that the squirrel was in a storage freezer with a deer. The bags froze together, and the squirrel's body somehow decomposed, he said.
"It's not about what DNA this squirrel has or whether we have the squirrel here," Assistant State's Atty. Daniel Taylor said. "Pouring boiling water over a squirrel is cruel. It's about a conduct of essentially scalding this animal."
(Chicago Tribune - Feb 15, 2007)