Woman gets 90 days in jail for killing son's cat

  • Kelly Palermo, 51, was sentenced Monday for her role in the stabbing death of her son's cat.

    Kelly Palermo, 51, was sentenced Monday for her role in the stabbing death of her son's cat.

Updated 9/13/2016 9:19 AM

A DuPage County judge ruled Monday that a cat named Zeppelin was trying to "save her own life from the hands of people trying to kill her" when she bit and scratched a Chicago woman last summer in Elmhurst.

Judge Robert Miller then sentenced the woman, Kelly Palermo, 51, to 30 months of probation and 90 days in jail for her role in the stabbing death of her son's cat.


Miller also ordered Palermo, who has two DUI convictions, to be fit for an alcohol detection ankle monitor and fined her $5,000 to be earmarked for the county animal shelter. In addition, he prohibited Palermo from owning a pet for the rest of her life.

Palermo pleaded guilty earlier this summer to aggravated animal cruelty in her role in killing Zeppelin but then unsuccessfully tried to withdraw that plea.

In court Monday, she insisted she pleaded guilty only "to take the blame for (my) kids," especially her daughter, Samantha Palermo, 22, who is charged with stabbing the cat five times as her mother held it down.

"I was just trying to take the blame for my daughter," she told Miller. "I just wanted the cat out of the house so it stopped attacking my children and grandchildren."

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Miller, however, said everyone involved in killing the cat is at fault.

"This was a lynch mob that attacked this cat," Miller said. "Whether you put the noose around the neck or you slapped the rear end of the horse, you're at fault here."

During the July hearing in which Palermo pleaded guilty, Assistant State's Attorney Kristin Johnson said Palermo became angry when the cat bit her around 9 p.m. June 10, 2015, at her ex-husband and daughter's house on the 900 block of South Euclid in Elmhurst. In response, she and Samantha Palermo decided to kill the cat.

Kelly Palermo admitted again Monday that she held the cat down while Samantha stabbed the animal.

In an Elmhurst police interview played in court Monday, Kelly Palermo said she encouraged her daughter to "kill the cat and put it out of its misery" after the first time she stabbed it.

"You can't take it to the vet now," she said she told her daughter. "What are you going to do, say you stabbed the ... cat? Who does this?"


Kelly Palermo also told investigators her 14-year-old son was "very upset" and grabbed the cat away from her before he called 911. But Kelly Palermo quickly took the animal back and held it down on the back patio as Samantha stabbed it four more times along its back.

When police arrived, Johnson said, Kelly Palermo was hosing off the back porch. She initially denied the cat was dead but eventually led police to find the animal's remains in a trash bag.

"I hate cats," Kelly Palermo told investigators. "They're stupid."

Palermo already has served 28 days in jail after her arrest.

Miller gave Palermo until Oct. 17 to find employment. If she has a full-time job by then, she will serve the remaining 34 days of her sentence in work release. Otherwise she will serve jail time.

"This morning, Kelly Palermo learned that for this heinous act of cruelty, she will spend three months of her life behind bars," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in a written statement. "While (Palermo) took responsibility for her involvement in the death of a family pet, there is nothing that can be done to bring Zeppelin back."

Both women are free on $125,000 bail. Samantha Palermo is still awaiting trial on similar charges.

Samantha Palermo has been declared mentally unfit for trial and is undergoing outpatient therapy in an attempt to restore her fitness. She is next due in court on Nov. 17.

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