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Police: Accused cat killer could be a 'sociopath'

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SARAH LARIMER | July 6, 2009 03:30 PM EST | AP

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MIAMI — A South Florida teenager accused of killing more than a dozen cats fits the profile of a sociopath and responded with laughter when police first spoke to him about the cat deaths, a detective said in an affidavit released Monday.

The 10-page affidavit notes that Miami-Dade County detectives used an electronic device to track 18-year-old Tyler Hayes Weinman's car and traced his cell phone before charging him with the macabre crimes. The tracking device showed the car had stopped near places where at least two dead cats were later found. The affidavit was unsealed the same day the teen was formally arraigned in Miami-Dade court.

Weinman had already filed a written plea of not guilty to charges with 19 counts each of animal cruelty and improperly disposing of an animal body. He also faces four counts of burglary related to the cat deaths. If convicted, Weinman could face up to 158 years in prison.

Police believe Weinman, who has been released on bond, was behind the deaths of at least 19 cats whose mutilated bodies were discovered by their horrified owners or other concerned residents in the Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay neighborhoods during the spring. Altogether, more than 30 dead cats were found in the neighborhoods between April and June.

The affidavit supporting Weinman's arrest warrant details how the investigation progressed and helps explain why police grew suspicious of Weinman, whose divorced parents live in both communities.

It says Weinman, who had been expelled from two high schools, was spotted by police on surveillance in Cutler Bay after midnight on May 14 and 15. Both times, when a police detective told him about the cat killings, Weinman laughed, the affidavit says. It also says Weinman joined an online Facebook group dedicated to catching the south Miami-Dade cat killer.

During a May 15 traffic stop that led to an arrest for marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license, police also found a "cutting instrument" outside the teenager's driver's side window. At one point during the interview, Weinman took off his shirt to show authorities scratches on his body. He said the scratches came from a stray cat that he fed at his mother's house.

When police asked Weinman what tools would be needed to commit the cat killings, he responded, "I don't know, but I'm sure they are very well hidden," the documents state. When asked how the cats could have been captured, he responded, "They have to be either tranquilized or poisoned."

But Weinman's lawyer said none of the evidence directly connects his client to the crimes.

"It's really important to note that there's not one single witness in there that says Tyler Weinman touched a cat," said the attorney, David Macey.

Prosecutor Elijah Levitt said the affidavit "speaks for itself."

In one interview with police, the teenager reportedly became excited when he described a "tearing sound" when skin is ripped from a cat's body during dissections, according to the documents. But a high school teacher told investigators that no such noise occurs when cats that are dissected in a classroom setting because of the way the bodies are prepared.

After consulting with staff doctors in the Miami-Dade Police Department's psychological services section, detectives concluded that Weinman fit the profile of a sociopath.

Macey called it "junk science," and said it will be proven false.

The teen did not attend Monday's hearing, but his stepmother and his attorney were present. No trial date was set.

A hearing has been scheduled Friday on a motion that Macey filed June 29 to return property seized during the investigation.

Police removed box cutters, several knives, hypodermic needles and a metal dental tool, according to court documents. They also took an iPod, computer equipment, a pair of shoes and a piece of paper that contained typed directions.

Macey argued that the items, which were taken from Weinman and his parents, did not represent "the fruit of criminal activity" and are unrelated to any crimes.