LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Opening statements were made Wednesday in the trial of a 24-year-old man who is accused of killing three adopted cats.

Prosecutors say Steven Ullery of Long Beach kicked one to death, strangled a second and struck the third with a blunt-force object.

“You’re going to hear how, not only did they die, but they suffered before they died,” said Paul Guthrie, a prosecutor. “You’re going to find out about cats that had ribs broken. You’re going to find out about cats that had legs broken. You’re going to find out about a cat who gets his tail broken.”

Guthrie told the jury of nine men and three women that Ullery systematically tortured the cats over a five-month period.

Also on Wednesday, Ullery’s wife took the stand and testified that she owned the cats before marrying Ullery and that they were feeble and old.

She stated that she never saw her husband mistreat them.

She further contended that the injuries to the cats may have resulted when one or two of them had fallen from the refrigerator.

According to the prosecution, after the cats were killed, Ullery returned to the nonprofit organization where the cats had been adopted,and requested a refund, claiming that the cats were defective.

“Initially, you accept that, and then we obviously conducted further investigation,” said Madeline Bernstein of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Lou Pilato, Ullery’s defense attorney, told jurors that there are no eyewitnesses, while the prosecutor countered, “The injuries are what they are.”

“What I’m trying to do is basically ask you to consider and analyze everything and not jump to conclusions,” Pilato added.

Testimony in the case is expected to last a few more days.

If convicted, Ullery faces a maximum sentence of five years in county jail.

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