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Teens accused of drowning kittens appear in court

Darcy Spears

Teens accused of drowning kittens appear in court

CREATED Jun. 28, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- One at a time, shuffling and shackled, the two teens came into Juvenile Court this morning to find out that they weren't going home.

"I think that they do represent a danger and, more importantly, I think there needs to be a risk assessment done just because of the sociopathic behavior demonstrated in this type of situation," said the Juvenile Deputy District Attorney.

The teens, one a student at Cimarron Memorial High School and the other at Centennial, are accused of holding two days-old kittens down in a cup of water with a barbecue tool to drown them.

Christine Ohm, a neighbor who shares a backyard wall with the home where the alleged drowning took place, told authorities she caught the boys in the act.

"They were laughing and they didn't think anything was wrong with it," Ohm said.

The Court wanted the boys and their parents to know there's a lot wrong.

"The Legislature has identified cruelty to animals as a special class of offense.  And I recognize that it is also a category D felony," said Judge Thomas Leeds:

The District Attorney raised concerns about more than just the kittens.

"Quite frankly, just the nature of the crime in addition to the fact that there's a witness that says after the incident happened, after Animal Control came out, that the subject minors were seen in the backyard calling for the mother cat -- saying "here kitty, kitty" -- holding either a crowbar or a pick in their hands."

He also brought up a text message from one of the boys. It was sent to the girlfriend of Christine's son.

"A text message was sent to a family friend saying not to "f" with us, that we have weapons." 

One boy's mother sat in tears as her son's attorney expressed concern for his future, emphasizing that this is his first offense.

"But for this incident, this young man's intention was to go into the military," said Attorney John Momot.

But the other boy, whose father is in the military, has a different story.

A juvenile probation supervisor told the court, "He has a limited history of delinquent behavior prior to this offense, your honor."

The D.A.'s office wants to find out what's really going on, what the underlying cause is that would lead to a crime like this.

"I want to have my day just looking at those boys in their eyes and them saying what they did and why they did it." 

Both boys will undergo psychological evaluations and risk assessments.

They're scheduled for a detention review hearing tomorrow morning and we'll be there as we continue following this case.

This is the first case in Southern Nevada to be prosecuted under Cooney's Law, which makes the charges felonies.

Before Cooney's Law, you could torture to kill an animal three times in seven years before it became a felony. But now, first offenses are treated that way.

The thinking is that animal cruelty is usually a precursor to crimes against humans and that treating it seriously early on could lead to the possibility of rehabilitation.