Jason Christopher Cavalera

Randall Lee Olney and

Rhys Earle Saxton

dragged a cat down Arizona 51 highway

Phoenix, AZ

Maricopa County

May 14, 2005

Three 18-year-olds thought it would be funny to drag a cat from a rope while speeding down Arizona 51 early on May 14th, authorities said.

They thought it would be a prank like the ones acted out on the MTV show Jackass, and they wanted to see other drivers' reactions. One of them figured if they got caught they would just get a ticket for littering.

But they got the wrong audience: an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer.   The officer booked Phoenix residents Jason Cavalera, the driver, Randall Olney, and Rhys Saxton into the Madison Street Jail on a suspicion of animal cruelty charge, a Class 6 felony.

"This is unbelievably shocking. We deal with 6,000 cases a year, and this takes the cake in how brazen and how cruel people can be," Arizona Humane Society spokeswoman Kim Noetzel said. "The fact that they thought it would be funny is frightening."

Around 4:20 a.m., DPS Officer Jason Lenhardt saw a blue Mazda traveling about 80 miles per hour southbound on Arizona 51 with a black-and-white object on a rope out of a window, bouncing along the highway.

When the officer pulled the car over, the suspects told the officer they had smoked marijuana around 2 a.m. and later decided to drag a cat from the car. They found a cat around 28th Street and Sweetwater Avenue that they believed was dead, Lenhardt said.

"They said they didn't want to hurt anyone," Lenhardt said. "I have seen Jackass, but I have never seen any animal get hurt or mangled."

Lenhardt found the cat bleeding and dead in the middle of the highway.

A necropsy performed on the cat determined it was probably a pet and was alive when it was dragged.

Update 1/14/06:  Three young Phoenix men caught dragging a cat's body behind their car on Arizona 51 were sentenced to probation and community service in Maricopa County Superior Court - Case #CR2005-009758-001 thru 003.

But not for animal cruelty; prosecutors could not prove the cat was alive when the men tied a rope around it and set off on what they thought was a funny prank. According to Deputy County Attorney Tony Church, there are no laws against dragging a dead cat behind a car, just live ones.

Instead, Rhys Saxton and Jason Cavalera , both 19, and Randall Olney, 18, pleaded guilty to using and possessing marijuana.

In Arizona, first and second drug offenses call for mandatory probation sentences. Saxton was ordered to serve two years of supervised probation. Cavalera and Olney must serve three years of probation because both tested positive for drugs since their arrest. Cavalera flunked three drug tests.

All three men must also do 180 hours of community service. But perhaps the most severe part of their punishment is that they may not associate with each other for the duration of their probation.

When Judge Edward Burke asked why three lifelong friends should be denied each others' company, Church had a ready answer:  "Apparently being lifelong friends has not been a positive thing, your honor," he replied. "It's led them right to this courtroom."


The Arizona Republic