SCRANTON -- A University of Scranton student testified in Lackawanna County court Tuesday that he stabbed a cat two weeks ago at his off-campus apartment house because he felt threatened by the animal.
Even so, the judge felt there was still enough evidence to send the case to trial.
This case has garnered a lot of attention, and many people have condemned the student, Peter Freshour, for what happened on August 4.
Tuesday, Freshour, 21, had a chance to tell his side of the story. He says the charges against him are not warranted and he did what any other person would do in that situation.
Freshour said over the last ten days he's had his tires slashed, his reputation destroyed, and his life threatened by people who had heard about the charges against him.
Peter Freshour was charged with animal cruelty two weeks ago when his neighbors on Taylor Avenue said they saw him stab a stray cat several times and throw the cat into the garbage.
But, Freshour said that's not the whole story.
"People need to understand what's going on before they rush to judgement, listen to both sides of the case and understand that I can't afford to get sick. And, the last thing I would want to do is kill a cat. I love cats, I have a cat of my own," Freshour said after his preliminary hearing.
Freshour said he believed the stray cat was rabid and it came at him and latched onto his leg. Which is a bigger problem for Freshour, since he said he has a rare immune disease that puts him at greater risk for a rabies infection.
He said he stabbed the cat once in self-defense with a knife he was using to open boxes, then killed the cat to put it out of its misery.
"What would you do if you had a cat latched onto your leg and it just wouldn't go away? And you just so happen to have a knife in your hand? You would defend yourself. It's a wild animal. I was scared," added Freshour.
Even though he admits to killing the cat, Freshour's attorney says at trial he'll try to prove Freshour wasn't being malicious.
Many of the people in the court room for Freshour's hearing didn't buy his explanation, though. Members of an animal rights group came to protest, and still say Freshour's actions weren't justified.
"His behavior is unacceptable, and he does have malice even though his attorney is trying to prove not, there is malice there," said Adriana Vargas of Edwardsville.
"He is getting rabies shots after the fact for the sympathy of the public. He's a scumbag," added Henrietta Kaczmarczyk of Scranton.
Whether or not Freshour was justified in killing the stray cat may now be up to a jury to decide. The judge decided Tuesday that there is enough evidence to take the case to trial.
Freshour is expected to be back in court on the single animal cruelty charge at the end of September.