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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A Shepherdsville man accused of torturing cats pleaded guilty Tuesday morning. 26-year old Alex Phelps pleaded guilty to killing at least four cats in January 2011.
In court, the judge asked, "Is it your desire to enter a guilty plea following the written recommendation of the Commonwealth?"
Phelps replied, "It is."
The Commonwealth's case against Alex Phelps had been mounting for nearly two years. On Tuesday, right before jury selection, Phelps suddenly decided it would go no further. Phelps' attorney Thomas Clay said afterwards, "I don't think anyone will be happy with a conviction or a five-year sentence, but given the circumstances of the case, we got the best outcome that we could."
Phelps faced 40 years if he hadn't taken the deal at the last minute. He was convicted on eight counts of animal torture spanning Jefferson and Bullitt counties.
Barbara Weakley-Jones, Jefferson Co. Coroner, described the mutilation of at least four cats: "They all died from stab wounds then they had post-mortem stab and incise wounds on the body also."
Prosecutors say Phelps cut out the cats' eyes, severed their tails, and dissected the insides.
WDRB obtained police interviews from January 2011: "If I've done this, then I have been possessed by a spirit and taken over by nanities or aliens and I have done it without my knowledge or my memory has been wiped."
Eventually, he admitted to the crime. After the slaughter, Phelps spread some of the remains in random places throughout Bullitt and Jefferson counties. It was discovered by one of the cats' former owners.
Phelps had purchased them on Craigslist. The plea deal goes against the wishes of his legal team, who planned an insanity defense. Clay explains, "We're going to come to court on sentencing day with a plan that will include some psychiatric counseling....We're going to ask the court to probate the balance of Mr. Phelp's sentence and give him an opportunity to receive some treatment."
Formal sentencing is set for next month. Until then, Phelps is free to return to his parents' Bullitt County home -- the same place where he slaughtered some of those cats.
Evidence made public last year revealed other disturbing details involving the slaughter of several cats.
Many of those details were discovered in a police interview with 24-year-old Alex Phelps that was released to the media.
During the interview, Phelps explained that he worked at Humana and provided agent support.
"Basically I answer phone calls for agents who sell Humana Medicare Advantage Plans all across the country, so basically in a nutshell, people who are too dumb and not licensed by the state to do their job. So an unlicensed licensed person as myself tells them how to do their job," he said.
At one point in the interview, Phelps compared his life to a television show.
"Do you ever see those television shows where, like, something will happen – okay? – and the audience knows everything that's happening to the main character, but everybody else in the television show is going along with the main plot assumption?" he asked. "This is one of those situations that, really quite unfortunately is one of those situations."
When asked if he would ever intentionally hurt an animal, he initially denied any such desire.
"I love animals. I love animals," he said. "I love animals more than I love people."
As the interview progressed, the police detective questioning Phelps began to apply more pressure.
"I want you to look at me and tell me why, in your apartment, where you live…why there's a bloody, covered-in-blood cat carrier behind your chair?" the detective asked.
Phelps said he put two cats in the carrier in the back of his truck and they began fighting. He said he eventually let the cats go and forgot about the carrier. Phelps said the whole thing happened at least a week earlier.
"This is fresh," the detective said.
"It can't be that fresh, dude," he said.
Eventually the conversation turned towards Phelps' desire to become a doctor.
"I have thought about it," he said. "Like neurosurgery or something in genetics or something like that. Basically to put my name in the history books for something awesome. That's the only way that you can achieve immortality."
"You have some skill with the knife – I'll give you that," the detective said. "You possess surgical skills way beyond – say – me. A layman. An average person."
Eventually, Phelps began to share about his interest in cats -- an animal he called "fascinating." He said they can sense electromagnetic activity and that, as scientists began to understand this, it could open the door to human telepathy.
"They can pick out who is in their own family without smell and everything," he said.
Before long, Phelps admitted to killing the cats.
"I didn't mistreat them. They were not killed in an inhumane manner. They were put down," he said. "I didn't want them to suffer. They were already neglected enough."
"I severed the artery that went up to their brain, so they pretty much died from asphyxiation. It was pretty much like they went to sleep. The puncture wound to the neck causes them to lose oxygen to the brain in about 10 seconds and they go to sleep. They don't even feel themselves die."