LAUREL — The victims of Sean Robinson's serial cat killings in Laurel finally have closure after sentencing in District Court in Billings on Tuesday.
“In the end, everybody thought the sentencing was appropriate. It was not what I expected. I expected more heartbreak, and I was very pleased with the way it turned out," Mindy Bausch, a victim of Robinson's crimes, told MTN News Wednesday.
Between March and June of 2021, Robinson admitted to killing approximately 10-12 neighborhood cats or cats that were rehomed to him.
Robinson was sentenced to 10 years in the Department of Corrections for five counts of felony aggravated animal cruelty.
Prosecutors were able to prove five of those cats were murdered by Robinson but did not have enough evidence to convict him for the other five to seven cats.
Ten years for five cats means each cat Robinson murdered added 10 years to his sentencing
The Bausch family's cat, Hobo, disappeared from their yard one night after the family volleyball game ended and they went in for dinner.
Bausch tells MTN News that Hobo didn't even like to be outside, and would never wander off on his own.
But Hobo never came home.
“I printed flyers, we posted them all over, my kids went door-to-door, talked to all the neighbors, nobody had seen him,” Bausch explains.
Bausch already had Robinson on her radar after seeing a suspicious Facebook post about him accusing him of mistreating animals.
But it wasn't until another neighbor told Bausch she had seen Robinson by the irrigation ditch near the Laurel golf course that she connected the dots.
Bausch says she didn't know Robinson lived in her neighborhood. But once she spoke with a neighbor, she and her husband tracked Robinson's house down.
Bausch's husband confronted Robinson but says he only communicated through his Ring doorbell.
Bausch says Robinson stated that he was watching the family play volleyball in their yard and didn't know where their cat went.
It wasn't until authorities served a no-knock drug suspicion warrant at Robinson's residence in June of 2021 that authorities discovered evidence of the animal cruelty crimes.
Robinson admitted to stealing and strangling Hobo and told authorities he left his body by the irrigation ditch.
But Hobo's death was far less gruesome compared to Robinson's other victims.
Court documents say investigators found pools of blood, cat hair, "fresh flesh," and dead cats.
Another victim, Sharon Luloff, told MTN News Robinson contacted her after she made a post to rehome two family cats.
Luloff explains that her mother and stepfather died within nine days of each other in 2021. She and her sister were tasked with cleaning out their mom's house and rehoming a mother-and-daughter cat pair that had been in their family for 16 years.
“When he came, I stopped him outside the house and said, ‘If you have any ill intentions with these animals, I don’t want you to even go inside,’” Luloff explains. “He looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘No, they’ll have a good home.'"
But Robinson lied. He had made the mother-and-daughter pair of cats his victims.
While Luloff is happy that Robinson was sentenced, she believed this crime deserves a far worse punishment.
“I just hope that they do change the laws and they are more strict, especially for someone that has mental health issues," Luloff explains.
And Luloff's opinion is echoed by Bausch.
“He got a two-year sentence for killing Hobo…It’s just unfortunate Hobo’s life was only worth two years," Bausch explains.
Ingrid Rosenquist, the prosecutor for the case, also believes that while Robinson got the maximum sentence, these crimes deserve a much heavier punishment.
Rosenquist provided MTN News with this statement on the sentencing:
"The sentence handed down by Judge Harris will hopefully give the victim cats’ families some measure of closure. My office is thankful for the bravery these families showed in facing Mr. Robinson at sentencing to assist in ensuring he was made accountable for his actions.
Rosenquist wrote, "This case sheds light on the inadequacy of Montana’s animal cruelty laws. When an individual, like Mr. Robinson, who serially stalked, stole, mutilated, and killed neighborhood cats, is considered a non-violent offender. Furthermore, the maximum incarceration penalty of 2 years to the Department of Correction for the offense of Aggravated Animal Cruelty, severely limits prosecutors in their ability to protect society from individuals such as Mr. Robinson. It is my hope that the next Montana legislative session will seek to address this issue."
Robinson's defense argued in court that he had severe PTSD from serving in the military, coupled with childhood abuse, which led him to commit these crimes.
But his victims aren't buying it.
“There are a lot of people that those things have happened to, there’s a lot of people with PTSD, a lot of people who were abused as children, and they don’t kill cats," Bausch explains. "They don’t dismember animals and electrocute animals. They don’t do those things.”
Prosecutors stated in court documents that help has been offered to Robinson, but he didn't follow through with the recommendations of counselors.
"The Defendant has been given the opportunity at multiple community placed programming including the CAMO treatment court that he successfully completed prior to committing these offenses," prosecutors wrote in court documents.
The victims hope that this sentencing will provide an opportunity for Robinson to change, but are also worried he might go back to his old ways when released.
“I think he was a little relieved to just know that help was coming. But that doesn’t take away from the pain that he caused so many people in such an awful, horrendous crime, over and over again,” Luloff says.
On top of the 10-year sentence for his animal abuse crimes, Robinson will also have to serve an additional 10 years in prison for unrelated drug charges.
"I hope he can get the help he needs, I don’t think it will ever be enough. I hope my family’s safe whenever he gets out," Bausch says. “He will get out, and he’ll be in society, and people are going to see him again. I just hope the right people are watching."
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