Court: Alleged animal hoarder should not have been given pretrial intervention

Posted: Updated:
NEWARK -

A woman whose home was populated by starving cats who had eaten some of their own to survive will have to go back to court to see if she can avoid a trial and possible jail time.

A New Jersey state appeals court ruled Monday that a judge erred when he allowed Jill Petruska to enter a pretrial intervention program that would have allowed her to eventually clear her record.

Investigators removed 13 live cats from Petruska's Nutley apartment in 2016 and estimated 12 more had died, though they said getting an accurate number was difficult because body parts were strewn around.

Petruska claimed she'd been caring for a sick relative and had stopped by periodically to care for the cats.

Her attorney didn't immediately return a phone message Monday.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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