Child Killer Who Abused NJ Cat Begs For Prison to Get Mental Help
WEST DEPTFORD — A Gloucester County man who spent nearly two decades in prison for killing a child is trying to get into state prison as quickly as possible after abusing a cat.
Christopher Pozzi, 52, was recently sentenced on one count of animal cruelty for lifting a cat above his head and slamming it into concrete repeatedly on the night of Sept. 22, 2022, and leaving her in a dumpster. According to the West Deptford police, a doorbell camera belonging to a resident at the Forest Creek apartments caught the horrific incident on video.
A Pitman Animal Hospital technician told New Jersey 101.5 last week that the cat, named Eileen, has made a full recovery from her extensive injuries including a fractured jaw. However, she still has arthritis in her jaw which will need more attention.
"I also have to watch that she can fully open her mouth," the technician said. "If at any point she is unable to, it will require surgery to fix. She is the most loving, funny, happy cat."
Attorney asks for speedy transfer to prison for mental health treatment
Pozzi was sentenced Wednesday, Feb. 8, Gloucester County Criminal Division Manager Rosemarie Gallagher confirmed to New Jersey 101.5.
His sentence includes 18 months in state prison, including credit for 142 days already served in Salem County jail. He must also pay $9,121 in restitution to Pitman Animal Hospital for the cost of surgeries for Eileen. Gallagher said the date Pozzi will be transferred was not available and the Department of Corrections did not have him listed in the state prison system as of Wednesday.
At Pozzi's sentencing hearing, defense attorney Eric J. Ziegler reportedly requested that his client be transferred from Salem County jail to state prison as soon as possible. According to NJ.com, Pozzi complained in court about his medications and the frequency with which they were changed.
“He really is in need of mental health treatment and where he’s currently being held in Salem County, his access to mental health treatment that he really does need is limited,” Ziegler reportedly said.
However, Salem County jail Warden John Cuzzupe told New Jersey 101.5 that mental health services at the correctional facility in Mannington are "probably similar" to services at state prisons.
Cozzupe said the jail screens individuals for mental health needs within 24 hours of their arrival. If the inmate has a clinical diagnosis as assessed by Center for Guidance, a contracted medical group, they are referred to a specialized facility.
"We are very happy with CFG," Cozzupe said.
He noted that the jail's services are "adequate" and that if they weren't, the facility would be dealing with constant behavioral issues. The warden added it's possible state prisons have more on-site services and don't require as many referrals.
Ziegler's office did not respond to voicemails left by New Jersey 101.5.
NJ cat abuser spent 19 years in prison for child's murder
Pozzi's brutal assault on Eileen last year was not the first time he had attacked a life unable to defend itself. He attacked three children, all from different mothers, in the 1990s, according to media reports.
State records show Pozzi pleaded guilty to third-degree child endangerment for a 1991 incident in Old Bridge. He was sentenced to four years of probation. A Tampa Bay Times report from 1997 said he hit a 2-month-old child during a domestic dispute.
The same report said that in March 1996, Pozzi pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse for an incident involving an 18-month-old girl in Tampa, Florida.
Then five months later while high on cocaine, Pozzi reportedly hit a 4-month-old baby in the side of the head during an argument with the child's mother at her apartment in Tampa. He put the baby in a trash can behind a local pizza restaurant. The victim's body was never found as the remains were incinerated at the local landfill.
Pozzi pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. He was released 19 years into his sentence.