Cat(ch) Me If You Can

Inside Superior Court Judge Epstein’s Courtroom

Monday, July 13 was the trial before a judge for Phelps Collins III for the misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty brought against him.

On or about January 15, 2009, within the District of Columbia, Phelps Collins tortured, tormented, cruelly beat, cruelly chained, mutilated and caused and procured to be so tortured, tormented, cruelly beaten, cruelly chained, mutilated an animal, that is, two adult male cats. (Cruelty to Animals, in violation of 22 D.C. Code Section 1001 (2001 Ed.)

Curiosity proved to be the driving force, with a desire to see first hand, Michael Price’s accomplice in the robbery of 1509 Swann Street on October 30, 2006.

One Unhappy Cat

One Unhappy Cat

Unlike jury trials, where the courtroom is tightly managed and activities and conversations in the gallery are frowned upon, Monday morning’s hearings before Judge Anthony Epstein were reminiscent of the television show Night Court


Prosecutors, defense attorneys, and defendants alike were walking in and out of the courtroom, conferencing with each other, looking for defendants and witnesses.  Half a dozen cases were on the docket for 9:30AM.

Several cases were dismissed, prosecutors citing a lack of evidence.  One defendant brought in from the lock-up in his orange coveralls (a result of not appearing in court for his trial) requested and was granted a release pending a mental health evaluation.

When case number 2009 CMD 001684 C United States Vs. COLLINS, III, PHELPS was called, Collins was not present.  His attorney stated that he was running late and would be there in a few moments.  Collins had relayed a message through pretrial or mental health services, and was on his way. 

The Judge, with a full docket, stayed the trial until his arrival. Shortly thereafter, Collins arrived.  With so many cases on his plate, and with the disclosure that there would be at least 4 witnesses for the Government, the Judge pushed the trial to 11AM.

Unlike the other defendants, many with dreadlocks and wearing baggy jeans, t-shirts or even tank-tops, Phelps Collins appeared well-groomed, although attired more for a night at a club rather than a court room.  Hair and beard were tightly cropped, and his blue striped casual shirt was freshly pressed and well- coordinated with a black vest adorned with silver piping and embroidered designer jeans.

For someone with at least 11 court appearances since 1998 – 3 felony charges, 2 small claims hearings, 3 tenant/landlord disputes, 2 misdemeanor charges, and one traffic violation, it was surprising Collins did not come dressed for success to present a positive image before the Judge.  Certainly he has established a name around Superior Court.

Discernible witnesses for the Government included 3 middle aged women, and a middle aged man (presumably Collins’ roommate that called the police on Collins’ alleged animal cruelty).

In the end, the Government prevailed, finding Collins guilty as charged.  Sentencing is scheduled for July 29, before Judge Epstein in Room 210.

– posted by Michael

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14 comments for “Cat(ch) Me If You Can

  1. Nelly
    07/15/2009 at 10:32 AM

    This is all very interesting. Thanks for reporting on the hearing.

  2. CDinDC
    07/15/2009 at 10:52 AM

    Michael says: “it was surprising Collins did not come dressed for success to present a positive image before the Judge.”

    Success is relative. Success to Collins may be scoring a ounce of an illicit substance. Or a free flat panel tv procured from a residence other than his own. Or getting off animal cruelty charges.

    In any event, justice prevailed. Excellent.

    • Perplexed
      07/15/2009 at 3:50 PM

      Plus he probably got lost on his way there, that’s why he was late — oh that’s right — he’s been there 11 other times…..

      If he cared at all, he probably wouldn’t be in the predicament he was in…..

      • CDinDC
        07/15/2009 at 4:01 PM


  3. concernednetizen
    07/15/2009 at 3:20 PM

    love it!

    • Clio
      07/15/2009 at 6:52 PM

      One down and three (or more) to go! It is revealing that the cats got their justice before Robert Wone, but this is very good news just the same.

      I gather that Mr. Collins’ former patron, Mr. Clark, was no where in sight. I also presume that Michael Price had to work that day and could not support his “friend.” Pity!

      On a even lighter note, who are the man and cat featured in the photograph accompanying this post about the most minor of minor “players?” I trust that that man is not Mr. Collins!

      • Michael
        07/15/2009 at 9:23 PM

        Neither Mr. Clark nor Mr. Price were sighted in the courtroom.

        – Michael

  4. CDinDC
    07/15/2009 at 6:36 PM

    And I have to ask…..what foolish man would shower a cat naked?

    • Michael
      07/15/2009 at 9:21 PM

      I felt it was the least offensive graphic I could find depicting a cat in an unpleasant situation, with some nudity thrown in for titillation.

      – Michael

  5. Themis
    07/16/2009 at 10:25 PM

    People who intentionally hurt animals generally won’t think twice about hurting a human weaker than themselves. Since it’s a misdemeanor, he’ll probably get some type of supervised release. What a pity.

  6. CD in CA
    07/17/2009 at 3:58 AM

    Can anyone (e.g., one of the editors or someone with legal knowledge on this issue, such as Bea, Themis, or CDinDC, perhaps) confirm that his cats were removed from his possession, custody, or control?

    Moreover, is there anything to prevent him from obtaining new cats and harming them?

    He seems truly deranged, such that he would simply continue his cruel behavior toward animals.

    • CDinDC
      07/17/2009 at 8:04 AM

      CDinCA, the cats were removed and placed in new homes.

      More cats? Hmmm……we hope not.

    • Craig
      07/17/2009 at 10:59 AM

      CD CA – The cats, Kitty and Fatty Cat were both rescued by the Washington Humane Society then treated at Friendship Animal Hospital and finally ‘re-homed,’ adopted out.

      The last we heard they were doing AOK.

  7. 07/17/2009 at 4:38 AM

    thanks for the post.

    The pic is sweet. My cat also looks so sad , when i bath it. Probably pets hate taking shower , but they just dont understand that it just should be done time to time.

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