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Death of family cat becomes gruesome animal cruelty case in Buffalo

A Buffalo man has been accused of killing his children's cat and then sending them pictures of the dead animal, according to a police report.

The twisted tale begins late Saturday night, when Buffalo police received a 911 call from a woman who told them a her ex-husband killed a cat in an apartment on Carolina Street on the city's Lower West Side.

When police arrived at a unit of the Villa Carolina apartments on Carolina near Fourth Street, officers found the cat dead in a bedroom.

The cat had a black electrical cord wrapped around its neck and it had been hung from the children's bunk bed, according to the police report.

The man is accused of then sending pictures of the dead cat hanging from the bed to three of his children, including a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old.

Antonio W. Martin, of Carolina Street, was arrested at his home early Sunday morning after police reported he admitted he killed the cat upstairs in the apartment, according to the report.

Martin, 40, was charged with aggravated animal cruelty, a felony, and two counts of child endangerment.

Police confiscated Martin's cellphone. A necropsy on the cat was scheduled.

The report did not reveal any information about a possible motive for why the animal was killed or why the images were sent to the children. Authorities are looking into a prior domestic history between the former couple as a possible motive, according to a police source.

Buffalo police are working closely with investigators from the SPCA Serving Erie County on the case.

Martin was arraigned in Buffalo City Court on Sunday morning and pleaded not guilty, according to court records. City Court Judge Andrew C. LoTempio released Martin on his own recognizance. He is being represented by an attorney from the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo and scheduled to be back in City Court on Sept. 19.

The case may be among the most heinous animal cruelty cases in Buffalo since a Jack Russell terrier puppy was doused with lighter fluid and set on fire in October 2012. The dog, who later came to be known as Phoenix, survived and two men pleaded guilty to felony animal cruelty charges.

News staff reporter Lou Michel contributed to this report.

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