A Phoenix man with a history of violence was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison after assaulting his girlfriend and killing her cat.
Scott Raymond Elam, 29, pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated animal abuse and fourth-degree assault. He received a two-year sentence for maliciously killing the cat, plus another two years for assaulting his girlfriend.
Elam said he has been coming to court and wasting everyone’s time since he was 18.
“There’s one common denominator — that’s alcohol,” he said.
Elam said he’s pushed away everyone he loves by not addressing his underlying alcohol problem.
“I resolve this time when I go to prison to be different,” he said.
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia said Elam’s actions were shocking to everyone.
“This is so sad, but I think you’ve got it right that you should have addressed the underlying problem,” Mejia said.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Elam and Ashley Nicole Smith were in a verbal argument March 24 in her apartment when Smith slapped Elam.
Elam grabbed Smith by her face and pushed her onto the bed, where he placed his hand over her mouth and nose, obstructing her ability to breathe, the affidavit said.
He left the bedroom, kicked her cat, then picked it up and choked it until it urinated on him, the affidavit said.
Elam changed his pants because of the urine, picked up the cat and carried it outside the apartment to nearby Bear Creek, the affidavit said.
“Elam threw the cat into the creek,” the affidavit said. “As it climbed back onto land, Elam kicked the cat back into the water. Elam said the cat made a noise when he kicked it and he knew it was injured. Elam went back into the apartment and told Smith that he just killed her cat.”
Elam left the apartment, then returned via the back patio, where Smith allegedly met him and stabbed him with a knife in the chest in front of her 5-year-old son, the affidavit alleged.
Elam threw Smith to the ground, and she dropped the knife, the affidavit said.
The couple and the child got into a vehicle, where the pair punched each other in the face. They got out, and Elam punched Smith in the face and threw her to the ground, where she hit her head on the asphalt, the affidavit said.
Elam found the cat, which was still alive, in Bear Creek, the affidavit said.
The couple and child got back into the vehicle, with Smith driving toward a veterinary clinic. Elam used his hands to strangle Smith as she tried to drive, causing her to almost pass out and drive into a bush. Smith continued driving, but the cat died, the affidavit said.
With the cat dead, Smith stopped the vehicle, got out with her son and tried to call 9-1-1 on her cellphone, but Elam took the phone away to stop her from making the call, the affidavit said.
She flagged down a passerby, who called 9-1-1, the affidavit said.
Elam later received three stitches for the knife wound in his chest, the affidavit said.
He told investigators he wanted to injure and kill Smith’s cat to make the woman hurt, the affidavit said.
Smith has been charged with unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of fourth-degree assault.
She pleaded not guilty to the charges in April and hired a defense attorney to battle the charges, court records show.
A check of Oregon court records did not reveal any prior criminal charges against Smith, who was released on her own recognizance after her arrest.
Elam has been held since his arrest in the Jackson County Jail on a parole violation, jail records show. His sentence could be shortened if he takes part in programs to address his issues.
Elam previously was convicted of fourth-degree assault on three separate occasions, plus third-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, second-degree theft and second-degree disorderly conduct, according to court records.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.