Confrontation Over a Cat Leads to Murder Charges

Hannah Star Esser, 20, is accused of fatally hitting man with car after she says he tried to run over cat
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2022 11:43 AM CDT
She Says He Tried to Run Over a Cat. Now, Murder Charges
Hannah Star Esser.   (Orange County District Attorney's Office via AP)

A California woman has been charged with killing a man by ramming her car into him after accusing him of trying to run over a cat in the street, authorities said Wednesday. Hannah Star Esser, 20, has been charged with murder in the death of 43-year-old Victor Anthony Luis, per a statement from the office of Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, reports the AP. Esser was driving in the community of Cypress on Sunday night when she confronted Luis and accused him of trying to run over a cat, authorities say. According to the DA's statement, Esser got out of her car, as did Luis, and she recorded a "profanity-laced tirade" against the father of five, per NBC News.

Authorities say Esser then returned to her car, turned around, drove toward Luis, and hit him, per the AP. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Esser was arrested Sunday. "This action showed a complete disregard for human life," Spitzer says in a statement, per KTLA, noting that his office "will ensure that this random act of violence targeting a stranger will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law." A spokeswoman for Spitzer's office says it's not clear what role, if any, a cat may have actually played in the incident, and that an investigation is ongoing. Esser, who's being held on $1 million bail, will be arraigned on Oct. 13. (Read more murder charges stories.)

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