TAMPA — A Hillsborough County judge barred a Tampa man from again owning animals Wednesday after the man admitted firing a BB gun at a cat and dumping the wounded animal into McKay Bay.
Judge Nick Nazaretian said he will let another judge decide what kind of punishment Giovanni Estrada receives when he is sentenced next month on animal cruelty charges.
"You already know how bad this is, and you've already been yelled at," Nazaretian told Estrada. "I'm not going to pile on right now but to say that what happened was just a complete tragedy. I've been doing animal court for five years, and that ranks in the top five worst tragedies I've ever seen."
Estrada, 20, already pleaded guilty in circuit court to shooting the cat with a BB gun 30 times in the summer. He then placed the cat in an animal carrier and dumped it into McKay Bay. A passer-by rescued the cat, who has since been renamed Lovey and placed in a new home.
Estrada was angry because the cat had eaten one of his pet crayfish, his girlfriend said.
Estrada said little during the brief court hearing Wednesday. When the judge asked if he was still in a relationship with Mildred "Missy" Krack, 26, who was also accused of participating in the cat torture, Estrada denied that the two were ever together.
Krack was banned last year from owning animals again.
"I think people can change, so you can always petition the court at some point later on down the road if things really change," Nazaretian said.
Estrada is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 23. He faces up to five years in prison.