Man charged with animal cruelty pleads no contest

26-year-old Justin Corey Fitzgerald Page and 23-year-old Cody Craig Gerarden (Photo credit: Virginia Beach Police)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A man accused of torturing a cat to death pleaded no contest to the charge of felony animal cruelty Tuesday morning.

Cody Craig Gerarden, 23, was arrested and charged for an incident stemming from April of 2015.

“He could have taken him back to the SPCA,” said SPCA volunteer Joan Terry.

26-year-old Justin Corey Fitzgerald Page and 23-year-old Cody Craig Gerarden (Photo credit: Virginia Beach Police)
26-year-old Justin Corey Fitzgerald Page and 23-year-old Cody Craig Gerarden (Photo credit: Virginia Beach Police)

Outside the Virginia Beach courthouse animal lovers gather with a sense of relief for a strangled cat.

“We just have to be loud and proud and speak for the silent ones,” Terry added.

Since “Pirate” the cat didn’t have a voice they are speaking for him. Pirate was brutally killed in April and one of the men at the center of the investigation was found guilty.

“We promised him we would get him justice no matter how long it took,” Terry said.

Police arrested, roommates and sailors, Cody Gerarden and Justin Page. Tuesday morning, Gerarden pleaded no contest to the crime, meaning he admits there is enough evidence to convict him. He told investigators he put this rope around the cat’s neck. Page held Pirate down as Gerarden pulled until the cat took its last breath. They told a neighbor about the crime right after it happened.

“Apparently he [Gerarden] was holding it down to remove a tick off him and the cat bit him and that’s what caused it,” added Monica Hines, the suspects’ former neighbor.

Pirate had a microchip so investigators were able to find the dead cat in the woods right outside its owners apartment complex. Gerarden told investigators that he lived on a ranch and had experience with animals before, and he knew how to put an animal down.

"Pirate". (Photo courtesy: VB CA's Office)
“Pirate”. (Photo courtesy: VB CA’s Office)

Tuesday he had to come face-to-face with people who would have done anything to save the cat’s life.

“It was hard, because he acts like it is no big deal,” Terry said. “The second step after abusing animals is abusing humans.”

Gerarden will now wait to hear his punishment. He could be looking at five years behind bars. He will be sentenced May 24.

The first step towards Justice for Pirate. “This is one step,” Terry added. “We have another one to go next trial, but yeah I think he did have justice. I’m proud that he got it.”

Gerarden was indicted by a Grand Jury with conspiracy too. That charged with nolle processed as part of the no contest plea.

Read a transcript of Cody Gerarden’s investigative report

Page will have his trial March 16.

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