October 25, 2001

Mr. Carolyn Powell
Assistant District Attorney
Santa Clara County DA's Office
70 West Hedding Street
West Wing - Seventh Floor
San Jose, CA 95110

Via facsimile: 408-275-1704
Re: Cats Burned by Campbell Teens
Case Number: 91269943S
Dear Ms. Powell:

I became aware of the above-referenced case from a pen pal in San Jose. He had the misfortune of being in his veterinarian's office with his own pet when a couple rushed in seeking treatment for their cat, one of those burned by these teenage boys. My friend was shocked and appalled to learn what happened and to see what had been done to the cat. He volunteered to help the couple -- who would later have to put their pet to sleep because the burns and injuries were so severe -- however he could, and spent time trying to comfort them in the waiting room even while his own pet was being treated.

Ms. Powell, I probably don't have to tell you that anyone who shares their home with a feline just weeps at the thought of losing their own companion animal in such an awful way. The reason I write you today is not to share my sadness, but to relay my concern over the minds that concocted and carried out this crime.

It is my fear, and I'm sure I'm not alone, that young men demonstrating such violent tendencies are likely, unless properly counseled and rehabilitated, not only to be repeat offenders of this type of criminal activity, but to graduate to more heinous crimes. Individuals who show such callousness towards defenseless animals can grow more apathetic regarding the value of life and eventually the value of human life-treating, or should I say mistreating, humans in a similar manner.

The link between violence towards animals (with little or no remorse for their actions) and similar violent acts against humans has been clearly identified by psychiatrists and psychologists. Serial killers like Albert DeSalvo, Jeffrey Dahmer and David Berkowitz had a history of animal abuse in their youth. Sadly, cases like the one you are prosecuting are becoming all too common across the United States.

Therefore, I would like to respectfully urge you to pursue this case to the fullest extent of the law and to make a strong argument for psychological testing and mandatory counseling for these teenagers, and perhaps even for their families as their support system.

It is also essential that-in addition to psychological treatment-these young men receive some punishment for their actions. They need to know unequivocally that what they did was wrong, that wrong actions have consequences, and that this type of behavior is unacceptable in our society. This was not merely a prank, it was the ending of three lives. They also need to be made an example to other young people who might contemplate committing such horrible acts that these crimes will be prosecuted and punished by the law no matter how youthful the offender.

Ms. Powell, I thank you for taking a moment of your valuable time to read my letter and for considering my words.


Leigh-Anne Dennison

Case Background: