By Jean Cole
Neighbors of a man who said he bought, named and killed kittens inside his home because he was “angry at the world” wonder why he was released on bail an hour after his arrest Thursday.
The fact that he was allowed to post bail is not unusual. Those accused of crimes under the criminal justice system are considered innocent until proven guilty and usually allowed to post bail.
Ronald “Fraser” Golden, 48, of 106 Bullington Road in Athens, was released about 2:30 p.m. after his mother, Virginia, arranged for his $22,000 bail, records show.
Golden did not answer a knock on his door for comment Friday.
If convicted, Golden faces a sentence of one year and one day on each of the Class C felony counts.
Reaction from neighbors ranged from surprise that the alleged crime occurred in their neighborhood to displeasure that Golden was released on bail.
“He did not need to be let free,” said Judy Thomas, who lives on Paddock Court near Golden. She said she is worried about children and her two dogs. “There are other animals in the subdivision, and Cowart Elementary School right across the street.”
The U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment-ban on “excessive bail” has been interpreted by the federal courts to mean a person has the right to be freed on bail except in cases of capital murder of a human.
That does not lessen the concern for Thomas.
“To have a room where he killed kittens and there was blood splattered all over … and because he was mad at the world,” she said. “We’re lucky it wasn’t a child.”
Both Thomas and her brother, Mickey Sutton, who was visiting her Friday, said they believe Golden should have been ordered to undergo a mental evaluation before being released. However, before his arrest Thursday, Golden had been held about 11 days at Decatur Morgan Hospital West psychiatric facility for evaluation, records show. A mental health officer issued a hold on Golden Sept. 30 and Golden’s mother signed commitment papers to extended the hold. On Oct. 3, the court ordered Golden to undergo an evaluation. He was released after a hearing Thursday, at which time police arrested him on the charges. There was not sufficient evidence to meet the law’s requirement for in-patient commitment.
Golden told Athens Police investigators Lt. Chris Slaton and Sgt. Johnny Campbell that over the past four months he has had a “cat room” where he throws kittens against the floor to break their necks, stomps on them or wrings their necks, Police Chief Floyd Johnson said.
He told the investigators he bought kittens on craigslist, an online classified advertising website, named them and then killed them. Police received a report of dead kitten carcasses in the Bullington Road area on Sept. 24. During the investigation, police received a tip that Golden was killing the kittens, Johnson said.
Investigators obtained consent from Golden to search his property and found five dead kittens in a brushy area at the back of his property, Slaton said. During the indoor search, police found blood-spatter on the walls and floor, the chief said.
Police also found two live kittens, named Melvin and Mia, and two live dogs. The kittens were placed with the Athens-Limestone Animal Shelter, Johnson said. They could be available for adoption within two weeks.
The last major animal abuse case in Limestone County occurred in 2010. An Elkmont dog breeder who was later found to be suffering from an untreated delusional disorder was charged with 43 counts of animal cruelty. Sheriff’s investigators had found on her property 29 malnourished dogs and 43 dead dogs believed to have died of starvation. The dead dogs were found wrapped and frozen in freezers on her property. She had told investigators she froze the dead dogs because someone was coming to help her properly bury them but had not yet done so.
In 2012, she was found innocent of the charges due to mental defect but was ordered to continue medical treatment and banned from owning more animals. The state’s forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Douglas McKeown, was the only witness to testify in the case. The prosecution had stipulated before the trial that the woman was not guilty by reason of mental defect.