Monday, May 29 , 2017, 12:26 pm | A Few Clouds 62º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Woman Takes Plea Deal in Fatal Stabbing of Ex-Boyfriend’s Cat

A Santa Maria woman accused of fatally stabbing a cat at her ex-boyfriend’s Orcutt residence in January has struck a deal with prosecutors, admitting to a felony animal cruelty charge in order to avoid more jail time.

Nellie Marie Palacios

Nellie Marie Palacios, 43, entered the guilty plea Wednesday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria, according to Deputy District Attorney Chrystal Joseph.

The deal reversed a former not-guilty plea entered Feb. 11.

Palacios, who is no longer in custody after being released on her own recognizance, admitted to charges to receive five years of felony probation and required participation in the Duel Diagnosis Treatment Court for mental health and substance abuse issues, Joseph said.

She will also receive credit for time served — 25 days — when back in court for her formal sentencing scheduled for June 5.

If the case went to trial, Palacios faced a maximum of three years in prison, to be served in Santa Barbara County Jail, or a maximum fine of $20,000, Joseph said.

“If she is in full compliance with the (treatment) program, completes the program and has no new law violations after a year and half, the People will not oppose a reduction by the court of the felony charge to a misdemeanor and her probation time will convert to three years, unless otherwise indicated by the court at that time,” Joseph said.

The charge stems from an incident that began about 3:30 p.m. Jan. 2, when authorities responded to report of animal cruelty at a residence in the 4600 block of Hummel Drive in Orcutt.

A man had called 9-1-1 to report that Palacios, his girlfriend, had gone into a home she claimed belonged to her cousin, and was removing paintings from the walls, according to Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

The caller said he witnessed Palacios choking a cat at the residence before stabbing it with a large kitchen knife.

Arriving deputies found Palacios in the yard, detained her and then found the cat dead in a nearby igloo-style doghouse, Hoover said.

Palacios claimed she was acting in self-defense, and that the cat attacked her. Deputies later determined the residence was the home of her ex-boyfriend, and not her cousin, Hoover added.

The knife used in the attack was located under the doghouse covered with blood and cat hair, Hoover said, and deputies found several paintings from the home and other items in Palacios’ car.

Palacios was arrested on charges of burglary and animal cruelty before being transported to a local hospital for treatment of scratches and then to county jail, with bail set at $50,000.

The burglary charge has since been dropped.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >