Blake Case & Errett Rouch

Enticed 4 cats, 2 opossums & a raccoon into a yard, sprayed them with hair spray, set them on fire

Bloomington, IN

July 25, 1997

John Barth, a passing motorist noticed a severely burned cat, and rushed her to a veterinary clinic. A witness saw a number of young men "partying" in their back yard next door. One of them was seen dousing the cats, with hair spray and lighting them on fire. The cat ran away screaming.

 Olivia a yellow eyed, 6 year old black cat, had 3rd degree burns over 40% of her body. Olivia died Sunday, October 12th, 2 1/2 months after 3 successful skin grafts, when her heart finally gave out. She had a fatal stroke. Olivia's owners, Matt Murphy and Lesley Davis spent $14,000 caring for their cat.

John Barth's cat Trumpy was one of the other cats tortured. Trumpy sustained burns across her back and tail - the top half of her ears fell off, as well.

Initially all 4 Indiana University roommate's were arrested and charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, but it was determined that Scott Painter, age 19 and Joshua Noel, age 18 were not involved in the cruelty. Painter and Noel are no longer students at Indiana University.

The Case was moved from Monroe County because of pre-trial publicity.

Blake Case and Errett Rouch, both 19 and both freshmen, are accused of luring Olivia and 3 other cats into a fenced-in yard, dousing them with an accelerant and setting them on fire.

At his trial, Case told the court he and 3 others, doused 2 opossums, a raccoon and 2 cats with lighter fluid after catching them in a trap and set them on fire. He denied any involvement in the torture of Olivia.

Judge James Harris of Morgan County Circuit Court sentenced Case to a $100 fine, plus court costs in addition to his indeterminate jail term. Case could spend up to a year in jail.

Case's jail term was listed as indeterminate because he continued to have loud obnoxious parties, litter in the street and completely ignored the Bloomington Police when they were investigating according Trumpy's owner.

On April 2, 1998, County Circuit Court Judge James Harris sentenced Case stating "You're going to leave here not knowing when you are going to get out", at the 3 hour sentencing hearing.

Additionally, Judge Harris ordered Case to write him weekly letters, and offered the option of an early release if he was convinced Case had learned something.

Case was suspended from Indiana University.

Errett Rouch was also sentenced to 1 year in jail on 5/21/1998. He pleaded guilty to 1 count of cruelty to animals and was also fined $175. He too was ordered to write the Judge a weekly letter, until the Judge was convinced that he had learned something by being in jail.

Sympathy letters, phone calls and money were sent to Olivia's owners. Petitions were signed and protest took place to ensure animal cruelty doesn't go unpunished. Because of the attention drawn by this case, Bloomington Rep and State House Majority Leader Mark Kruzan authored House Bill 1037 to prevent animal cruelty and punish its perpetrators more harshly. The bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Frank O'Bannon. A new Public Law #41 also went into effect, making a 2nd offense of animal cruelty a Class D felony.

References:

The Indiana Herald Times

Olivia's Petition

The Indiana University Daily Student News