UTD student sentenced to six years in prison for animal cruelty

Mango is one of two cats that UTD student Shubhankar Kawle tortured. Mango survived Kawle's abuse but had to have his front leg amputated. The photo was taken right after Mango's surgery.

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UTD graduate student Shubhankar Kawle was sentenced to six and a half years in prison on Aug. 31 for torturing two house cats, one of whom had to be euthanized due to severe injuries; the other had a limb amputated and made a full recovery.

Kawle was charged with cruelty to non-livestock animals, which is a third-degree felony in the state of Texas when it involves torture, serious bodily injury or death. Kawle was taken into immediate custody upon the conclusion of his trial on Aug. 31 at the Hunt County Courthouse, 354th District Court. Clerk documents from Hunt County Courthouse show that Kawle appealed for a retrial on Sept. 11. Kawle is seeking a community supervision sentence instead of imprisonment, which means that if successful, he would live outside prison but be monitored by county probation departments. However, as Kawle is in the U.S. on an F1 student VISA, he may be deported to India once he is finished serving time.

Kawle came under suspicion after Katheryn Montgomery, whom Kawle had briefly dated, discovered signs of abuse against her two cats Mango and Nimbus in October 2021. The pair met in August on a dating app after Montgomery’s divorce and began seeing each other. Montgomery would give Kawle rides from his residence in Richardson to her house in Quinlan, where he would occasionally watch over her cats while she was away.

Mango’s Amazing. He Is The Most Amazing Cat I’ve Ever Seen. He Was Born In This House And He’s Always My Best Friend. Just Listen To Your Animals. They’ll Tell You If The Person’s Good Or Bad. I Forgot There Were Monsters In The World.

KATHERYN MONTGOMERY
MANGO & NIMBUS’S OWNER

“He was always very kind and sweet. When he first came over, he was actually scared of the cats,” Montgomery said. “He said that he had never been around cats before … he was so timid … He didn’t show any violent tendencies or anything.”

In 2021 Montgomery began to notice unusual injuries on Mango and Nimbus. In September, Mango was left alone in a room with Kawle, where, unbeknownst to Montgomery, he abused the cat, leaving Mango with severe enough injuries that his front leg had to be amputated. Afterwards, Montgomery discovered that Kawle had clipped both cats’ nails – which can be painful if not done properly – too short likely because they were scratching him.

“[Kawle] told me at the time that Mango was outside and fell out of a broken window,” Montgomery said. “But I had fixed the window and put plastic over it. So it didn’t make sense that he would fall out … The cats were best friends, but during that time they started to not like each other to the point they would hiss at each other every time they saw each other. And I didn’t understand that either.”

After growing suspicious of Kawle, Montgomery installed nanny cameras in her house. On Oct. 9, 2021, Montgomery returned home after visiting her son and found Nimbus in an unrecognizable state. Authorities believed Nimbus had been hit by a car, but after reviewing the cameras, Montgomery found footage of Kawle strangling, beating and torturing Nimbus with a metal rod for five hours in her room. Nimbus was later euthanized at the Risinger Veterinary Hospital in Terrell, Texas.

“[Kawle gave me his credit card] because of the vet bills, but when I saw what he had done, I didn’t want anything to do with him,” Montgomery said. “I couldn’t fathom that he would do something to my cats because my cats are so trusting and loving. Mango doesn’t even fall on his feet because he just trusted that I would always be there to catch him.”

The autopsy report conducted by Shawn Ashley, a forensic veterinarian with the Texas Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, showed that Nimbus had eight fractured ribs and damage to internal organs. Ashley also identified pre-existing head trauma, meaning this may not have been the first case of abuse Kawle inflicted on the cat. Radiographs and medical history from the veterinary clinic were later used in the trial after a forensic veterinarian confirmed the footage was consistent with what the jury watched.

“Just reading the report was one of the most difficult experiences for me in reading a report of any sort, whether it’s law enforcement, animal cruelty, [or] anything in my experience,” said Maura Davies, VP associate of communications for SPAC of Texas. “I felt physically sick, even just reading the report.”

The Hunt County police department began an investigation on Oct. 13, 2021 after Sheriff Deputy Clint Landrith was dispatched to address Montgomery’s complaint. Upon arriving, investigators found several signs of abuse inside the home, including “stains on the walls.” On Oct. 15, Texas Chief Investigator Courtney Burns issued a warrant for Kawle’s arrest.

“Torturing an animal is inhumane and illegal, and what Mr. Kawle did to Nimbus was not only horrific and heartbreaking, but one of the single worst cases of animal torture I’ve seen in my career,” Burns said. “I’m pleased to see the perpetrator of this heinous crime brought to justice.”

I COULDN’T FATHOM THAT HE WOULD DO SOMETHING TO MY CATS BECAUSE MY CATS ARE SO TRUSTING AND LOVING. MANGO DOESN’T EVEN FALL ON HIS FEET BECAUSE HE JUST TRUSTED THAT I WOULD ALWAYS BE THERE TO CATCH HIM.

MONTGOMERY

On Oct. 20, 2021, Kawle was arrested in the middle of class by UTDPD. From there, he was transported to Lew Sterrett Jail in Dallas County but released under a bond of $50,000. After being released, Kawle continued to work at the UTD Testing Center as a proctor and contributed to research in soft robotics and control systems in professor Yonas Tadesse’s Humanoid, Biorobotics and Smart Systems Lab. The Testing Center did not respond to a request for comment about Kawle’s employment.

During his trial on Aug. 31, Kawle said he had no memory of either cat’s torture, which his defense attorney argued could be due to the stress and sleep deprivation of attending college. Kawle motioned to have the torture video and the court case suppressed, arguing that it violated his right to privacy. The court denied this motion.

Kawle, who is being held in Hunt County Detention Center, did not respond to a request for comment. While The Mercury was able to reach Kawle’s wife, Amanda Elsberry, she declined to comment. The pair met after Kawle’s arrest, and Elsberry has since taken his name. As recently as August, the Zola page created for their wedding said that it was planned for November 2023 in Williams, Iowa; the page is now listed as “not found.” Montgomery said she had kept up with the pair and that Kawle treated “[Elsberry’s] cat like a queen.”

Montgomery still lives in the house she built in Quinlan but now stays in a different bedroom. After Nimbus’s death, Montgomery adopted two cats from a cat shelter – Gracie and Toot – for Mango’s company, one of whom is an amputee. Although Mango still exhibits signs of trauma – he occasionally hisses and will jump when touched – Montgomery said the cats have helped Mango return to his friendly and trusting demeanor.

“Mango’s amazing,” Montgomery said. “He is the most amazing cat I’ve ever seen. He was born in this house, and he’s always my best friend. Just listen to your animals. They’ll tell you if the person’s good or bad. I forgot there were monsters in the world.”

Mango Recovery Timeline:

This is the original story, published on Sept. 4, 2023:

Shubhankar Kawle | LinkedIn

UTD graduate student Shubhankar Kawle was sentenced to six and a half years in prison on Aug. 31 for torturing two house cats, one of which had to be euthanized due to severe injuries. 

Kawle was charged with cruelty to non-livestock animals, which is a third-degree felony in the state of Texas when it involves torture, serious bodily injury or death. Kawle was taken into immediate custody upon the conclusion of his trial at the Hunt County Courthouse, 354th District Court. 

The Hunt County police department began an investigation in October 2021 after receiving a complaint of animal cruelty at a residence in Quinlan, Texas. The unnamed source installed house cameras after noticing their cats were returning home severely injured, to the point of one cat needing their leg amputated. On Oct. 9, investigators obtained footage of Kawle kidnapping one cat and torturing it for five hours with a metal rod. The animal sustained severe injuries and was euthanized hours later.

Kawle was arrested Oct. 20, 2021 on campus by UTDPD after Texas Chief Investigator Courtney Burns filed an arrest warrant. From there, he was transported to Lew Sterrett Jail in Dallas County but was released under a bond of $50,000 shortly afterwards.

After being released, Kawle continued to work at the UT Dallas Testing Center as a proctor and contributed to research in soft robotics and control systems under professor Yonas Tadesse’s Humanoid, Biorobotics and Smart Systems Lab.

The Mercury will continue to gather information on the crime and publish a detailed report on Sept. 18.



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  • Incredibly difficult to read. Please consider adding a trigger warning if you are going to include gruesome details about animal abuse.

  • Is there any way for us to contact / petition authorities and push for him not to be outside of prison? I’d feel beyond sick knowing a predator and god awful human being like him was out and in the same area as me.

  • However, as Kawle is in the U.S. on an F1 student VISA, he may be deported to India once he is finished serving time.

    Oh, please send him back to his s@$%hole country. It’s not surprising though.

    Kawle motioned to have the torture video and the court case suppressed, arguing that it violated his right to privacy. The court denied this motion.

    Good.

    While The Mercury was able to reach Kawle’s wife, Amanda Elsberry, she declined to comment. The pair met after Kawle’s arrest, and Elsberry has since taken his name. As recently as August, the Zola page created for their wedding said that it was planned for November 2023 in Williams, Iowa; the page is now listed as “not found.” Montgomery said she had kept up with the pair and that Kawle treated “[Elsberry’s] cat like a queen.”

    Someone married him? Especially after what he had done (with video evidence)? She needs to wake up.

  • Recently found out that he is not in prison. He was released on an appeal bond. He is confined to hours home country of Iowa and restricted of owning any animals.

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