By Kelly Mahaffey/ Staff Writer
Former LBCC student Sergei Smirnoff, 23, was arrested in Redondo Beach on Dec. 24 on suspicion of animal cruelty, the dailybreeze.com reported. Police were called to the scene after a 911 call was made by a witness who saw Smirnoff strangle the cat with his bare hands then throw the animal onto a concrete garage floor, police said. Smirnoff could not be reached for comment. Redondo Beach police Sgt. Shawn Freeman reported that it appeared Smirnoff intended to give the cat to his estranged girlfriend as a peace offering and Christmas gift, hoping the gesture would reconcile the relationship.
After the gesture was rejected, Freeman said Smirnoff allegedly flew into a fit of rage, resulting in the brutal death of the cat. The cat, named Roxy, was a 3-5 year-old female Smirnoff had rescued from a shelter about one week before the incident. The girlfriend, who remains anonymous, did not know about the killing until after learning news of Smirnoff’s arrest, reports said. On Dec. 29 at his arraignment, Smirnoff was officially charged with one count of felony animal abuse to which he pleaded not guilty and ordered to reappear on Jan. 12, court records show.
Smirnoff posted the $20,000 bail and was released Jan. 4, according to the inmate locator on lasd.org. On Feb. 26, while out on bond, Smirnoff was arrested again, this time in Torrance, police said. The felony charges are pending while he remains in custody, bail now at $60,000, records reveal. Lon Hall from Facebook wrote “There isn’t enough toilet paper in the world for turds like this.”
On Petition Hub, Katherine Stevens has enlisted 867 signatures calling for stiff sentencing for Smirnoff if convicted.
LBCC student Dakota Jenkins, 20, an undeclared major, said, “I feel bad for the cat but at least it wasn’t the girlfriend.” Lydia Sanchez, 19, an English major, said, “It’s pretty creepy knowing someone I went to school with is capable of committing such a violent act on an innocent animal.” Raelynn Ramirez, 18, an undeclared major, said, “If he really is guilty of killing that cat, then I hope he goes to jail for a long time. It’s just sick and pathetic.”