Lawyer quits in Elgin cat-hoarding case

Lawyer quits in Elgin cat-hoarding case

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ELGIN, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Accused cat hoarder William Tinkler and his attorney have parted ways over how to defend against his criminal charges, possibly torpedoing what seemed to be an imminent plea bargain agreement, the Courier News is reporting.

When Tinkler's case came up for a hearing Thursday in Elgin Branch Court, Tinkler failed to show up.

But his lawyer, Michael Reidy, did appear and filed a motion to withdraw as Tinkler's attorney.

A new hearing date was set for Oct. 3.

Reidy said later that he was withdrawing "because of a difference of opinion" with his client.

Tinkler, a 61-year-old retired skating teacher, was arrested last Sept. 26 after a crew hired by the city of Elgin to cut the overgrown lawn outside his 19th century home in the 200 block of Villa Street discovered a large number of dead animals inside a van parked in his driveway.

Police found an estimated 43 rotting, dead animals in the van, including approximately 27 cats plus birds, squirrels, opossums and a muskrat.

Inside his house they found four live cats, which they seized because of what they described as unsanitary conditions throughout the home.

Tinkler is charged with four counts of animal cruelty, four counts of neglecting a pet owner's duties, and one count of violating the Illinois Dead Animal Disposal Act.

All are misdemeanors punishable by less than a year each in jail, fines or probation.

During a hearing in May, Reidy and Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Kevin Sanders met with Judge Robert Villa in his chambers for a "402 conference," in which both sides' lawyers and the judge frankly discuss how they see the evidence in a case stacking up and explore possibilities for a negotiated guilty plea.

During a lengthy interview with a Courier-News reporter in June, Tinkler said he had started saving dead animals in a basement freezer with the intention of mounting them as taxidermy specimens. But when the freezer broke down, the carcasses began to decay, he said, so he moved them into the van.

Tinkler holds a state taxidermy license, although he could not show any examples of animals he had mounted.

Tinkler said during the interview that for years he had offered a home and food to dozens of stray cats by leaving his basement windows open and leaving out up to 60 food dishes on shelves in the basement. He said his treatment of the live cats could not be considered cruelty because they were free to come and go at will, and that all the dead animals died from natural causes or being hit by vehicles.

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