FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - A man who pleaded guilty to torturing a kitten in December will spend one year behind bars.
Matthew Jerome, 22, Fort Wayne, was sentenced in Allen County Superior Court Monday.
Jerome admitted to torturing the kitten Sparkle last year.
Judge Wendy Davis sentenced Jerome to three years for each of the Class D felony counts he faced: Torturing or Mutilating a Vertebrate Animal. One year will be served for each count, but Davis suspended two years and ordered one year of probation. Davis also suspended a one-year sentence for a Class A misdemeanor count of cruelty to an animal.
The News-Sentinel reported Jerome was ordered to get his GED and have a psychological evaluation.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Allen County court, Sparkle originally belonged to Ashley Jackson who lived with Jerome.
The kitten and its injuries were discovered by a neighbor in early June 2012 while Jerome sat outside on his home's front stoop. Jerome denied owning the kitten when asked by the neighbor and later told detectives that was because he no longer wanted the animal.
In an interview with investigators, Jackson said she had obtained the kitten a couple weeks before the incident. She said Jerome was open about not wanting the pet in the first place and would often complain about the animal being around, the court document said. When the kitten went missing, Jerome told Jackson he had given it away to Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control to make her mad.
Jackson informed police that she and Jerome had been in an argument , when Jerome started a fire in a backyard fire pit to burn pictures and letters related to the two.
According to Matthew Jerome, the kitten was around during the burning and when he turned to walk back into the house he heard the animal cry out in pain. He claimed to see the kitten in the fire struggling to get out, which it eventually did. Jerome later suggested that he may have "bumped" the kitten into the fire. He acknowledged that he did not help the kitten upon seeing it in the pit.
During their investigation, officials heard from Ashley Jackson's sister, Alyssa, who informed them that she witnessed Jerome burning the kitten's whiskers off with a lighter earlier in the day while sitting on a couch inside the home.
When dropped off at Animal Care and Control, Sparkle's whiskers had been burned off, the pads on her feet were burned, and it appeared that a rubber band had been used to attach fireworks to her tail.
Sparkle was adopted in Oct. 2012 by Lynne Ticen, of Fort Wayne. Ticen was one of 12 local candidates that submitted an application to adopt the kitten.
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