A South Carolina man has been sentenced to two years in prison for burning as many as five kittens to death.
As the Herald of Rock Hill reports, Christopher Rainey, 27, pleaded guilty to arson and ill treatment of animals for the May 2017 incident. Judge Dan Hall sentenced Rainey to two years in prison.
At the time, Rainey says, he was high on marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine, and off of his prescription medications for mental illness. His attorney, 6th Circuit Public Defender Mike Lifsey, says that the combination of illegal drugs, plus the lack of legal, prescription drugs used to treat his mental illness, caused him to enter into a mental state where he was incapable of acting rationally.
It was a sentiment echoed by his mother, Tammy Lane.
“He does crazy stuff when he is off his medications.”
According to court documents, on the night of the incident, Rainey used gasoline to burn down a shed on his family’s property with five kittens inside. Four of them died in the fire; a fifth one somehow survived.
Rainey faced additional charges of illegal use of a vehicle and damage to the Chester County jail after his arrest, although the specifics of those charges have not been made clear.
Rainey, who has been on antipsychotic medications such as Ritalin, Xanax, Zoloft, and others since he was six years old, has a long rap sheet going back decades. He’s done two long stretches in prison for burglary, assault, and other crimes.
His lawyer says that he’s a victim of a system that is poorly equipped to handle the mentally ill. However, Judge Hall, while admitting that Rainey “needs help,” refused to let Rainey’s problems with drug abuse and mental illness get him off the hook.
Rainey, for his part, asked the court for mercy.
“If I am allowed a second chance and can go home, I do have goals I plan to accomplish.”
Further, his attorney asked the court to provide treatment instead of prison.
Mental illness often drives its sufferers to engage in acts of animal cruelty, says Dr. Roman Gleyzer of Western State Hospital in Tacoma, Washington.
“A history of animal cruelty during childhood was significantly associated with [antisocial personality disorder], antisocial personality traits, and polysubstance abuse. Mental retardation, psychotic disorders, and alcohol abuse showed no such association.”
Do you believe Christopher Rainey got a fair sentence for burning four kittens to death? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Ztranger/Thinkstock]