Resolution reached in case of teen killing kitten with blow darts

Note: This report contains graphic images that may not be appropriate for sensitive viewers. Reader and parental discretion advised.

ST. GEORGE – The 5th District Juvenile courtroom was full Wednesday as attorneys presented the judge with a resolution reached in an animal cruelty case involving a teen who shot and killed a kitten with blow darts in June 2014.

Under the terms of the resolution, the teen admitted to facts in the case in exchange for having the third-degree felony charge against him for the killing and torture of a companion animal amended to a class A misdemeanor for aggravated animal cruelty, removing the “companion” and “torture” elements of the charge.

Judge Michael Leavitt adjudicated the charges against the teen as provided in the resolution and then issued disposition orders; the teenager is required to:

  • serve 30 days in detention – 30 days that the judge simultaneously suspended for as long as the teen follows all of the court orders and does not break any laws
  • complete 35 hours of community service, specifically to an animal shelter
  • complete a mental health evaluation and follow the recommendations of that evaluation
  • provide a DNA sample that will be kept on file in a database along with his photograph and fingerprints, and pay the associated $150 fee for the test
The cat lays with the darts in its head, St. George, Utah, June 20, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Lee Webb, St. George News
The cat lays with the darts in its head, St. George, Utah, June 20, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Lee Webb, St. George News

Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Angela Adams said she didn’t feel the prosecution could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the teen’s intent was to kill and torture the kitten.

“The best intent that we would be able to prove,” Adams said, “was that he tried to scare it away, get it out of its yard, screw around with it, whatever, and it ended up dying.”

The kitten the teen was adjudged to have killed was discovered just outside the back door of a St. George man’s home. The kitten was lying dead with two 6-inch darts – sharpened spikes made of steel with plastic ends – protruding from its head.

“I acted recklessly and caused the death of a cat,” the teen told the court Wednesday.

The teen acknowledged that he intended to shoot the cat with the blow dart and scare the cat away, but said he didn’t intend for the cat to die.

“I hope this process has been a good lesson for you,” Leavitt said to the teen during the court proceedings. “Sometimes it’s hard, particularly if you’re used to hunting or even just dealing with animals in a certain way, it’s hard to get an idea as to why this stuff becomes a big deal. I hope through this process you’ve understood that – why the law is what it is in respecting animals and that it can be a serious thing.”

The courtroom benches were filled with approximately 15 animal rights activists.

When the disposition had ended, animal rescue worker Kris Neal said she was satisfied with the results.

“I guess the outcome is as good as it can be,” Neal said. “Of course, we always want more punishment, but we’ve got a lot of awareness out of this.”

Neal said she would like to see the laws changed to require stricter punishments in incidents involving animal cruelty.

“To me, it’s just so sad that our laws are so weak that somebody actually has to torture an animal to get a punishment that’s deserving of the crime,” Neal said, “where if they simply kill them, we get a slap on the hands. So, in that respect, it really saddens me that our laws are like that.”

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  • jaybird March 18, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    This kid should be tagged with an everlasting gps; a serial killer in the making. His parents should be fined.

  • Real Life March 18, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Could not prove that he was trying to kill the kitten? Sure. Wink, wink. In what ward was this again?

  • fun bag March 18, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    well i grew up in a small farm town. used to see kids do a lot worse than this to poor old cats. Their mormon parents would come see what they’d done, pat them on the head and say “you done good, you done real good little johnny”. maybe there was a cat torture BSA merit badge. who knows…

  • ladybugavenger March 18, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    Shooting a dart at a cat is intent of killing it.

  • anybody home March 19, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    You can scare a cat away by clapping your hands loudly – it doesn’t take two 6″ sharpened steel spikes shot in the head to do the trick. This was so obviously a premeditated act.

    • fun bag March 19, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      LOL, u obviously never owned a cat

  • mmmbacon March 19, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    The courtroom was filled with “animal rights activists” more commonly known as “crazy cat ladies”

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