A West Chester drug addict accused of injecting heroin into a kitten was sentenced to time served in jail, parole and community service Tuesday for choking and kicking the animal.
Chester County Common Pleas Judge Phyllis Streitel also ordered James P. Myers to complete drug and alcohol evaluations. The judge cited the "sick and disturbing scene" police discovered on Aug. 3, 2014, when an officer found the animal unresponsive with a rope around its neck and head trauma lying next to Myers' car.
The car contained dozens of needles, hundreds of empty heroin baggies and a box of cat feces, prosecutors said. Myers was high on heroin.
Police originally accused Myers of injecting the kitten with the drug, but a drug test on the animal came back clean.
Myers served 16 days in jail after his arrest. Streitel also ordered him to serve up to 23 months in parole, including two under electronic confinement, and 150 hours of community service. And she sentenced him to another year of probation for possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia.
The 25-year-old told the judge he was ashamed for his actions and has since been sober for more than 13 months.
"With everything that's happened, I really believe I hit my rock bottom," he said.
In July, he pleaded guilty to one count each of drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and cruelty to animals.
The male kitten, now one year old, now has a permanent home with the veterinarian who cared for the animal at a Malvern clinic the morning police found it. The cat, named Hope when it was found, is now Mephisto and is healthy, playful and outgoing, according to its owner.
Evan J. Kelly, Myers' lawyer, said his client was high on heroin and sleep deprived when he found the stray cat and tried to rescue it. Myers meant the rope around the animal's neck to be a leash, Kelly said. He said Myers hallucinated and thought the kitten was attacking him, so he kicked it.
Myers has completed voluntary treatment programs and is living in a sober house in Lancaster County. His mother and father held hands as the judge told him his sentence. His father sighed in relief when the judge chose not to sentence him to jail.
"You're an addict who's doing everything right to protect your sobriety," Stretiel told the defendant. "One day at a time. Good luck."
Kevin Pierce, the prosectuor, called the case one of the worst instances of addiction he'd seen. But he agreed that Myers is doing well now.
"There's the August 3rd version of him that was deeply troubled and did a deeply horrible act - and the version today," Pierce said.