Darren Kuback, the Palm Coast resident charged with a felony count of animal cruelty in the death by strangulation of a cat, pleaded to the charge today and was sentenced to two years of house arrest followed by three years of probation. His trial was scheduled to start this morning.
“I treated the cat well, it was just one bad day,” Kuback, 55, told Circuit Judge Terence Perkins today in court as he pleaded no contest. He was adjudicated a felon.
As a condition of his plea, Kuback is forbidden from owning pets or from pet-sitting, with one exception: his son has a service dog. He will be allowed to be around that dog. He is also required to fulfill 50 hours of community service. Probationers normally get to end their probation at the halfway point if they’ve followed the rules. There will be no early termination either of house arrest or of probation for Kuback, according to the plea terms.
Kuback’s wife told the 911 dispatcher that he was having a mental health emergency at the time of the incident. Florida law is an all-or-nothing state when it comes to mental health impairment: either an individual is incompetent to stand trial or he or she is not, and if the individual cannot prove insanity at the time of the crime, there is no middle ground where various mental impairments, however severe, can mitigate the individual’s fate in the face of criminal charges. Kuback had been left alone with the cat–a cat he’d cared for previously–when his wife left the house for a doctor’s appointment.
But there is no record of attempts by the defense or the court to have Kuback mentally evaluated for his competency. The third-degree felony charge carried a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison.
Previous coverage is below.
53-Year-Old Palm Coast Man With Mental Health Issues Charged in Death of Cat by Strangulation
August 18, 2021—Darren Kuback, a 53-year-old resident of Burbank Drive in Palm Coast, was arrested and charged with a felony count of animal cruelty on Tuesday (Aug. 17) in the death of a cat by strangulation, an incident that appears to be connected to Kuback’s mental health issues, according to a sheriff’s report.
His medication had been recently changed, causing him no longer to act normal for two weeks, his spouse told authorities. He was due to be taken to the hospital for an evaluation because of those changes.
Kuback’s spouse called 911 late the morning of Aug. 11 to report that her husband was having “a mental emergency,” according to his arrest report–and that he’d killed his cat with his hands and could be violent with law enforcement.
“It’s too late,” Kuback told deputies when they showed up. He was standing in his driveway and asking to be taken to the hospital.
His wife told deputies she had left the house at 7 that morning for an out-of-county appointment, and had last seen the cat at 6. When she got home a little after 11, Kuback was behind closed doors, the door locked. When he came out, he had blood on his hands, on his shirt and on the cat, which he placed on the floor. The cat–which his wife said he loved and had cared for previously–appeared dead.
Authorities took Kuback to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach. The cat was taken to Flagler Animal Hospital, where a preliminary exam concluded that it had been the victim of blunt force trauma. The cat was then taken to a veterinary office at the University of Florida that specializes in necropsies. That necropsy was performed on Aug. 13. “No skull fractures, no broken bones and no previous injuries” were observed, according to the sheriff’s report on the necropsy. Referring to the veterinary pathologist, the report concludes: “The cat was in very good condition with no abnormalities or sickness being observed on examination. Due to mild hemorrhage within the muscle of the cat’s neck and failure to find any other injuries,” the pathologist would find a “high probability of strangulation.”
The report included a grisly detail: “The main finding upon necropsy was the gross deformities of the eyeballs. It appears someone was attempting to remove the eyeballs of the cat.” The pathologist was definite on one count: the cat’s death was “not natural.”
Deputies had found a “large amount of blood” behind Kuback’s bedroom door and drops and smears of blood on the bedroom carpet and on a door stopper. Daytona Beach Police arrested him Tuesday in that city. He is being held at the Volusia Branch jail on $100,000 bond over the third-degree felony charge.
He’d had previous violent episodes when he wouldn’t take his medication or mix it with alcohol, including threats to kill his spouse and harm himself, his spouse told deputies. Two years ago, after a bout of drinking, he was arrested for threatening to kill his spouse with a screw driver. The felony charge was downgraded to a misdemeanor, and adjudication was withheld. Last year authorities were again called ho his home because of his erratic behavior in an incident that resulted in a resisting-an-officer charge and battery on a law enforcement officer, a felony. A plea deal resulted in a sentence of 90 days in jail and two years’ probation–which was cut short last spring. He is still not considered a felon, as his adjudication was withheld.
“This incident is a text-book example of how people escalate to more serious crimes,” Sheriff Rick Staly said of the arrest over the cat. “This guy needs help and unfortunately it was too late for his family pet. This type of behavior could be an early warning sign that something else is going on and is often how more serious crime starts. I hope the courts order him to get the help he needs before he seriously hurts or kills a human.”
The FCSO wants to remind residents that if they are dealing with a mental health crisis or have suicidal thoughts, you are not alone! There are numerous resources for help with mental health struggles in Flagler County. For more information visit http://www.flaglerlifeline.org/local-mental-health-services/ or call 800-273-8255. You can also visit: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
An image Darren Kuback posted on his Facebook page several years ago of a cat at his home. An image Darren Kuback posted on his Facebook page several years ago of a cat at his home.
No sympathy here for Mr Kuback if he refuses to take his meds or mixes meds with alcohol.
No human or animal should be around this irresponsible person. If you’re not willing to help yourself, you’re not deserving of help and should be considered a dangerous threat to society.
I guess this needed to escalate to an arrest for authorities to handle the man before it gets worse & involves other animals or people. Dementia or mental illness with a full grown adult is like that. Milder & even more severe events are always possibilities. No pet should suffer abuse and in this case a death. But that’s a matter of timing with any event of abuse & violence. I agree with Staly on his statement, If the man’s wife isn’t on top of the situation, she may need help and this is a step in the right direction, all be it too late for the cat. Was it a mater of predictability ? Those are fine lines, there are doctors that are handling the case, Family members also involved and perhaps they all dropped the ball or were unable to predict this would unfold as it did ? There’s a fine line in managing the mental ill, then when meds & other substances that are used to manage a disease that is never going to be cured, that will only get worse as time progresses. Every one is assumed innocent until they prove otherwise. I don’t see this sticking as animal abuse, the defense will be the man is mentally ill, on meds and whatever else absolves anyone of accountability or responsibility. The only solution is taking rights that healthier people have. But that much needs to happen to manage the mentally ill patient more effectively.
Maureen Salemi emmjay says
I know Darren and he is a sweet, kind man that is ready to help anyone that needs it. I live next door to him and he is always doing whatever he can to help me and my husband. Unfortunately he does need mental help and as usual the only thing Flagler county can do is arrest him which is totally unbelievable. I don’t blame the deputies because they are doing their job according to the law but why doesn’t the sheriffs’ department look into a way to help him instead of putting him in jail, do they really think that will solve the problem. Shame on this county, we need mental health programs to help all the people that need them. I just read about the young girl that attempted suicide for the second time maybe a program could have helped her but no we don’t have anything worthwhile, what about people on drugs, we need programs to help all these people. What a sad state of affairs.
Wow, $100000 bond. Killers and robbers around here don’t even get bond set that high. Was this a mistake?
Well said, don’t if it was a mistake but murderes don’t get a bond that high I don’t think. Again our justice system is a little whaco.
Born and Raised Here says
I’m surprised this guy was allowed to have pets in his house, since he had mental and violent issues.
Please people when you know someone stops their meds, acting out of character, do not leave them alone because this is the results of what happens. A helpless animal died and of course his attorney will say he wasn’t in his right mind, and he will get off with a slap on the wrist which doesn’t bring that cat back to life.
So tired of that reasoning they didn’t know what they were doing, well guess what someone did. Speak up and act when you know someone is acting out of character before a helpless person or animal is the victim.
Ryan whittleman says
So nysean giddens sells drugs to a human and kills him gets a 20,000$ bond yet this man has mental problems way back and they been trying to get him help but he’s allegedly killed a cat so a cat life is worth than a human plus he is incompetent and you bash there family?? I mean this is just what my tax dallors are going to.. I don’t see any privileged things here and this man gave back more than any one I know to this community !!! UNFAIR Rick Staley keep using our tax dallors to go to the border sit down before you pull a muscle.. this man needs help 100k bond haha
Flagler resident says
Wow this is incredibly ridiculous that flagler county has lost yet another one why do they arrest these people ? Why not try and get them the help they deserve ? I am and have been a friend of Darren for over 17 years he is a loving caring father/person in general.he is in fact an animal lover as you can see. They have been contacting there doctor for over 3 weeks befor this happened. They called multiple times. So the best thing flagler county does can do is arrest him ? You should feel ashamed there are people bashing this family because of someone’s mental illness that is completly out of there hands and then to give him a bong of 100k shows what they care the most of . Please if you or anyone suffer from mental illness I pray for you and your family that flagler county gets you help instead of arresting you please we can all work together to help people in need versus putting them behind a wall with no medications so when they come back home they do the same things because they don’t get proper medical attention
Red headed Stepchild says
Something is dramatically wrong with FCSO and the justice system in Flagler. 100k bond for killing his cat is absolutely ridiculous. Calling 911 for assistance with a mentally ill family member shouldn’t end up in his arrest. Also, the information being filed a day after the arrest is suspicious. Seems neither FCSO or State’s Attorney have any common sense.
Did the taxpayers really need to pay for two autopsies for a cat? I’m glad the extremely high Palm Coast taxes are going to a good use.
Flagler county worker insider says
100k bond?!?!?!? For a non convicted felon and he never treated his wife with a screw driver read the 707 I know Darren and I know the Kuback family personally and I associate with them and help them as an attorney and friend. Kathleen vichilli isn’t a MD she’s going to have her license gone in 2 months because all the recorded voices prior to what led up this was 13 days.. 13 days the son called over 4-6 times and left voice mails and was left with no options on what to do with his father.. he’s not a doctor he’s just a loving caring son who by far did so much and is continuing everyday fighting for Justice and IT WILL BE SERVED!!! flagler county is wasting tax payer dallors to go to Mexico new cars. He wasn’t mixing medications or using alcohol or drugs at this time !!!! This (doctor.. SHE NOT SHES A WANNA BE DOCTOR NEVER WENT AND GOT HER 8 year degree ) she’s a Nurse practitioner but has control to prescribe Antipsychotic and depression and psychological medications…. IM NOT THE SMARTEST BUT BOY IM NOT DUMB… 100k bond they have it out for them or him
Glen Bolivia says
His wife Sheryl Kuback passed away from breast cancer Dec 13 next to her 2 sons. She was diagnosed first week of November. And Mr.Kuback Was nothing but there every single day trying to help his wife and tell her to beat cancer unfortunately God called her a little early. You guys would never to be able to deal with half of what Me.Kuback has been thru!!! He is seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist and FINALLY GOT ON THE RIGHT MEDICINE. not only court dates buts he’s morning from the devastation of losing his best friend his wife Sheryl they had 3 boys together he was 16 and she was 17 and they were inseparable sense… THE MAN HASNT EVEN BE ABLE TO GRIEVE WITH COURT DATES, LAWYERS FEEES CUZ THERE ISNT JUST 1 LAWYER HIS FAMILY GOT FOR HIM….. FLAGLER COUNTY NEEDS TO START PUTTING REAL INFORMATION OUT OR WAIT TILL THE VERDICT IS OUT AND SETTLED… ACCUSED A MAN WITH A MENTAL DISEASE WERE FIGHTING FOR HIS JUSTICE EVERYDAY AND HELL GET!!!!! 26% of grown men have a mental disease.
The dude says
HE PICKED UP A DEFENSELESS ANIMAL AND SQUEEZED ITS NECK UNTIL IT WAS DEAD!!!
THEN GOUGED ITS EYES OUT!!!
Sorry… “I was having a bad day” just doesn’t cut it. Given there is no support or help here in this county for folks like him, Only a matter of time til he ends up like another Palm Coaster who also had a bad day and stabbed his father to death.
Agreeable. You don’t strangle your cat to death because your having a bad day, then attempt to disengage the poor kittys eyeballs. Who cares if this freak acts as a good neighbor? He’s a psychopath and the cause of more tragedies waiting to happen. These schizophrenic parasites might change their tune if there were proper consequences for actions such as this, maybe reciprocate the harm done to the cat on the one who did this evil act. Disengage his GD eyeballs and strangle him. See who else he tries to punish or kill because he’s a weak minded psycho.
Concerned taxpayer says
All this because of killing an animal???? Please
What this man did was despicable. You can defend him with capital letters all you please, but it does not change the fact that he should not be around people or animals. Shame on you for criticizing Flagler County or the Sheriff’s Department. There are laws on the books about animal cruelty, and not all animal cruelty is done by “loving” people. House arrest is not enough. This guy needs to be packed away.
Wake up call says
This man has a violent temper, Staly did the right thing from what I read in this article he is under HOUSE ARREST, he’s not in the green roof inn, the bail was set high so he’s not a flight risk, we certainly don’t need him wondering around out there somewhere where if he has a fit of rage to harm humans. This from what I read is the SECOND time he killed a innocent animal who was a family pet, my condolences go out for his spouse and family , but in the same note people lose loving family members everyday that’s life but they don’t go and kill their family pets in a fit of rage. These are signs that need to be taken seriously to prevent further harm a person may do in the future to humans, has anyone learned from the mass shootings across our nation. Hope he gets the help he needs until then he is a danger to society.
Kuback Djk says
It wasn’t a bad day
It was a horrible life Especially the last 18. Years watching family members suffering suffering ffrom Alzheimer’s cancer diabetes and friends
The only bright spot was my wiffe and sons Who I had ato watch suffer nightly I just pray none of you have to go it ,love use to honor the police people more and my numerous cats ….l watch die from camera and family members.Treat me like an animal and I’ll be one thank you Stanley for exaggerating the truth and putting words in peoples mouth to make yourself good Throwing people back into system here and Flagler keeps the youth town they don’t know the truth they only took look at the background and keep youth on in the system And denying me my medication and others screaming there for hell I respect the police but the sheriffs department I believe our croniesthat makes people come out worse than better thanks for your concern wishing all the people in And foster cares and in bad situations are caught up in the system piece that’s all they do is look up your record and don’t look at the individuals history the judge can only go buys what’s in the police report And I was younger I wanted to be a policeman I know it’s stressful out there but you can’t go bye you’re a police record because there are bad police out there at timesthey’re above the law You cause more harm than good to my family and people struggling out there especially the sheriffs deputies I don’t think they’re qualified
Doctors just give you more Drugs some good some bad the next time you pull someone over don’t look at the record because you have no idea what they been through Take a police and after the Blasio and for the other ones the sheriffs Stevely at the judge you’re only doing your job you can only go up I was in a police record but a lot of those police wreckers are falsified hope you sleep well at night
See that pain y’all cause my father. First off all y’all are losers how ain’t got no money my father was out less than 2 hrs something a lot of y’all couldn’t do or family wouldn’t do if he was a treat why would we post bail and pay for lawyer(s) you guys and the system is a joke I hope anyone of y’all who have some mentally ill or any one with addiction in ur family that you’ll see what it does to people… most people who are in Flagler been golden spoon fed there whole lives my mom was the best lady couldn’t compare to any of y’all!!! I’m over 4 years clean and I plan on making it anthor 4…. This is to everyone who had sumn to say about my father I wish you well but y’all ants compared to us!!! Small things to giants(;