February 20th, 2014 by Eric Phelps
Winona, Miss. (February 20, 2014) – In Defense of Animals (IDA), the international animal protection organization that operates Hope Animal Sanctuary in Grenada, Mississippi, offered a $500 reward in December for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever beat and burned a kitten. A witness heard about IDA’s reward offer, stepped forward with information, and Winona resident Michael Forrest was charged with the heinous crime. This past Tuesday, February 18, Mr. Forrest was convicted.
The black and white kitten, approximately 3-4 months old, was found on October 29 on Hardy Street in Winona. She had singed whiskers and hair, and her feet were very badly burned. She had also sustained injuries consistent with being beaten and had lost the use of her back legs. Her injuries were so severe that she had to be humanely euthanized.
The nature of the crime moved Winona Municipal Court Judge Devo Lancaster to hand down the maximum sentence allowed under law, a $1,500 fine, thirty days in jail, and court costs. Mr. Forrest had already incurred the ire of the judge during his earlier arraignment for which he was found to be in contempt of court. Mr. Forrest entered the courtroom in shackles for his trial.
“I am thrilled that our reward offer led directly to the arrest and conviction in this case,” said Doll Stanley, director of Hope Animal Sanctuary. “However, I know people will be shocked at how trivial the fine and jail time are for such a horrible crime. But the judge and law enforcement should be praised for acting to the fullest extent of the statute governing animal cruelty. The fault lies with our state legislators who fail to enact laws that justly punish crimes of cruelty to animals,” Stanley added.
Photos of the kitten are available for download here: http://bit.ly/1giP6vA