MIAMI (CBS4) -Three weeks have passed since all of the charges were dropped against the 19-year-old accused of killing nineteen cats. In those weeks Tyler Weinman has tried to make sense of the 18 months he lost under house arrest.
“You know it still hasn’t really hit me as I was telling you earlier. The whole last few weeks have just been a blur,” Weinman told CBS4 News in his first one-on-one interview.
The simple act of being free to leave his home is a profound experience for Weinman. “You can walk outside and hold your head high and not have to worry that people are sitting around the corner going, `Oh that’s the bad man,’” he explained.
Yet despite having the case against him tossed, Weinman knows there will always be individuals who believe he is guilty.
“Yeah, they can dwell on it, I’m just going to move forward from it and leave them in the dust,” he said. .
Weinman’s arrest in June of last year was international news. He was labeled a budding sociopath and psychoanalyzed at length by people who never met him.
“That’s the thing that really bugs me the most is the way that things have been set up,” he said. “Once you get called a sociopath you can’t even walk a tight rope, there is no tight rope, you are free falling. “
Weinman’s demeanor following his arrest puzzled many who watched the case. The seeming smirk that was often present during court appearances left observes to wonder if Weinman was taking the accusations seriously.
“People have said that I’m an old soul,” he offered. “I’ve always said that, I’m more calm I’m not going to go off and do rowdy things.”
Weinman’s father, Doug, said he is amazed at how well his son handled the pressure for the last eighteen months.
“He’s grown like you wouldn’t believe,” Doug Weinman said. “In my mind he wasn’t ready to go on to life and now he’s become so mature. He’s actually handled it better than I did. I would actually get emotionally upset that the attorney for the prosecution would do something in court or the judge wouldn’t give us a ruling I thought we were going to get and Tyler would say, `Just relax that’s the way it’s going to be’ and `It’s going to end when it ends and it is what it is,’ and he was able to control his emotions which just amazed me.”
Even now, watching him in his father’s home, surrounded by his step mother’s cats, you can’t help but study the way he interacts with them. A pet theory of investigators was that Weinman targeted cats as a way of lashing out at his step mother, who obviously loved cats.
“People are just dying to draw conclusions and think that they are the genius to solve the puzzle and come up with all of this amateur psychoanalysis stuff,” Weinman said. “One thing that I learned is that the people, who have actually gotten to know Tyler, know me, have been there for me. They’ve supported me the whole way. All those people who really know me have been there the entire time; they’ve been by my side.”
Weinman fights back tears as he talks admitting that his emotions have started to get the best of him.
“I haven’t begun to understand it,” he said of his experience. “The entirety of everything; It’s not just one thing it’s everything.”
He said his family endured hate mail and death threats and his mother was forced to move out of her home soon after he was arrested.
Prosecutors abandoned their case against Weinman last month when it was scientifically determined at least eight of the cats were actually killed by dogs. The bodies of the other 11 were destroyed and couldn’t be properly tested.
Weinman denied he has ever harmed a cat.
“I love them,” he said. “I feel bad when you accidentally bump into them the wrong way.”
On the day we met with Weinman, he had just wrapped up a meeting with documentary filmmaker Billy Corben — the filmmaker behind Cocaine Cowboys is thinking of turning his lens on the botched cat killer case.
Weinman and his family are also interviewing civil attorneys from around the country in anticipation of what will likely be a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the police and prosecutors for wrongful arrest.
At 19, Weinman’s immediate plans are more modest.
“I want to go get a nice regular college experience, as regular as things can be for me now,” he said, adding he wants to study electrical engineering.
Asked if he planned on staying in South Florida, Weinman responded, “No, I want to get out of Miami.”