Tyler Weinman, the youth once accused of mutilating 19 cats across South Miami-Dade, is suing the county and a prominent animal rights organization for botching the high-profile investigation that led to his arrest.
Miami-Dade prosecutors dropped felony animal-abuse charges against Weinman in November 2010, an embarrassing conclusion to a highly publicized case.
Relying on the opinions of employees of the county’s animal services department, Miami-Dade detectives had built a circumstantial case that collapsed when a defense expert discovered animal bite marks, probably from a large dog, under the fur of eight preserved cat carcasses.
Named in the lawsuit: Miami-Dade County, including Detective Dominick Columbro and former Animal Services Director Sara Pizano; and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the University of Florida, which employed forensic veterinarian Melinda D. Merck.
The suit alleges that negligence by the county and Merck — chiefly, the failure to detect the dog bite marks on the cat carcasses — led to Weinman’s false arrest.
“This young man was vilified in the media. It became a national and international subject. He became a pariah,” said civil attorney Ronald S. Guralnick, who filed the suit Tuesday. “My client should have never been charged in the first place.”
The suit asks for damages, and notes that Weinman’s father, Douglas Weinman, spent more than $144,000 in legal fees to defend his son.
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