Accused murderer who had tiger getting death threats from animal's actual owner, attorney says

Miya Shay Image
Friday, May 14, 2021
Man linked to missing Houston tiger bonds out of jail
As Victor Cuevas left a Fort Bend County jail Wednesday, the whereabouts of 9-month-old India remained unknown.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The man linked to a missing tiger that was seen roaming in a west Houston neighborhood over the weekend bonded out of the Fort Bend County jail Wednesday afternoon.

The Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office said Victor Cuevas posted bond at about 2:40 p.m.

Cuevas' attorney and mother are among those who awaited his release.

Cuevas was booked into the Fort Bend County jail for evading arrest in a motor vehicle, and his bond was set at $50,000 in connection to the case with the Houston Police Department. Cuevas is also charged with murder stemming from a 2017 incident near his Richmond-area family home.

But his attorney maintains that he acted out of self-defense in the incident four years ago.

"From the very inception of these allegations, Victor Cuevas has claimed, and very consistently claimed, that this was not a murder at all, that he was defending himself from unlawful use of force by the victim in the case," said attorney Michael Elliott.

Meanwhile, Carole Baskin said she worries about the fact that no one knows where the tiger is. If she sounds familiar, Baskin became a household name after she appeared in the true crime documentary "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness."

Baskin runs Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary in Florida.

"It's such a dangerous situation because this cat has no fear of humans, and yet, any of those actions, turning, running, tripping, a child just being small, will trigger that killing instinct," she told ABC13.

WATCH: 'This cat has no fear' Carole Baskin weighs in on tiger on the loose

Meanwhile, in various videos posted about the tiger, the suspect Cuevas was seen ushering the tiger back into the house he lived in. Shortly after that, Houston police said Cuevas put the tiger in a white truck and took off. HPD lost Cuevas in a short chase.

Since Cuevas' arrest, his attorney insists his client does not own the tiger.

"I want help finding India," said Elliott, who on Tuesday disclosed the tiger's name.

Elliott claims the 9-month-old tiger is owned by another man nicknamed "D," who has texted "death threats" to Cuevas.

ABC13 was shown the texted threat, but could not independently verify it.

SEE ALSO: Murder suspect who was linked to tiger in west Houston has been arrested on evading charges

Elliott said he finds it hard to believe that HPD lost Cuevas and the tiger during a chase.

"This is Houston, Harris County," he said. "They have police in every corner, Motorola radios, Fox (helicopter) in the air. How often do you see people running in an SUV that doesn't get caught? Something doesn't match up here."

You can legally own a tiger in Texas, but not inside the city of Houston limits. Cuevas is not charged with anything relating to the tiger specifically.

Cuevas' Instagram feeds show him previously cuddling a baby bear, two monkeys, and a tiger. His attorney says a tiger on his client's social media page does not prove he owns a tiger.

Houston police call Elliott's version of events "conflicting," but did not elaborate.

The whereabouts of the tiger remain a mystery.

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