Two Vallonia men have been sentenced to 360 days in the Jackson County Jail after they were found guilty of killing a domestic animal, a Level 6 felony.
Brothers Gavin Garrett Goens and Garth Franklin Goens, both 30, were arrested Jan. 13, 2022, after an investigation into a call placed Jan. 9 by a neighbor of the men who said she had recorded an altercation between them and another man.
According to a news release from Sheriff Rick Meyer about the arrest, the two yelled at the women, “Hey, your cats are dead.”
When an officer visited the Goenses’ residence at the time on South Main Street, they initially said the cats they had killed were feral. They said the cats came onto their property and were caught in a trap.
There were numerous wire traps of carrying sizes containing some sort of bait. During the conversation with the officer, the brothers admitted that cats matching the description of the neighbor’s had been a nuisance and were caught in the traps, according to the police report.
The brothers also had allegedly killed the animals by shooting them in the head with a 9mm handgun and then burying the deceased cats on their property.
The pair was alleged to have killed more than 20 cats, according to the police report.
The conviction of only one count of killing a domestic animal for one cat was filed for the case.
On Tuesday, the Goenses’ defense attorney, Brock Dawson, called their mother, Joanna Goens, to give a statement on their behalf.
Since the incident and after, she said the brothers both posted the $1,505 bonds the following Monday after their arrests, and they moved away from the area due to tensions with many neighbors.
She also said they have been productive members of society by helping her with her wholesale business and their disabled stepfather figure.
Dawson also noted to Jackson Circuit Court Judge Richard W. Poynter that the day after the jury trial, the Goenses caught another cat, but instead of killing it, they took it to a shelter.
Dawson noted this for the record in an attempt to show that this circumstance is unlikely to reoccur.
He also stated for the record that the woman allowed her cats to roam the neighborhood without being spayed or neutered.
State of Indiana Plaintiff Attorney Scott Noth argued with the mitigation of this circumstance to unlikely reoccur using the video of the Goenses taunting the woman over the death of her cat as an example of blatant disregard for the neighbor’s property and lack of remorse.
Noth brought up the victim impact statement of the family who took care of these cats, saying this incident affected them deeply not only losing their animals but to be taunted, as well.
Noth ended his disagreement with the mitigation proposed by Dawson with stating the Goens brothers’ previous arrests. Noth noted for the record that in previous charges, their probation was terminated unsatisfactory.
Poynter stated the facts of this case and described the actions of the Goenses as cold and disturbing. The judge said there are some people who see animals as part of their property and others who see their pets as more than that.
As Poynter addressed the brothers for their actions in this case, tensions grew as the Goenses tried interrupting the judge during his statement.
Poynter told them numerous times to stay quiet during his statement.
“You disposed of them as if they were trash, and that is why you are going to jail,” Poynter said as the Goenses kept their heads down.
Both brothers were sentenced to 360 days in jail with five days of actual credit and five days of good time credit and $292 in restitution fees. Emotions from the brothers and family in the audience were apparent as the men were booked and handcuffed.
Probation eligibility will be determined at a later date.