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Winona Man found guilty of animal cruelty
by Amanda Sexton Ferguson, Editor and Publisher
Feb 20, 2014 | 273 views | 0 0 comments | 52 52 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WINONA - Judge Devo Lancaster handed down a hefty sentence to a man found guilty of animal cruelty in Winona City Court Tuesday.

Michael Forrest of Winona was sentenced to 45 days in jail and a $1,500 fine for intentionally burning a kitten, a misdemeanor. A first offense charge of animal cruelty is a misdemeanor in Mississippi, with a second offense graduating to a felony.

Forrest who is currently in the custody of the Carroll-Montgomery Regional Correctional Facility in Vaiden for unrelated charges will get time served as well.

"The court's intention is for you to serve 30 days for this crime," Lancaster said. "So you are sentenced to 45 days with credit for time served."

According to the testimony of Marcia Snyder, Forrest's girlfriend at the time of the incident, on October 29, she and Forrest were drinking with a group of friends around a small bonfire at a home on Campbell Street in Winona.

Snyder testified that Danny Joe Lott placed his kitten, which had two broken legs at the time, on the porch near Forrest. After a while, Forrest demanded the kitten be moved or "he was going to throw it in the fire."

"Mike grabbed the kitten by the head and threw it into the fire," Snyder testified. "It flip-flopped itself out of the coals."

Snyder said after Forrest threw the kitten into the fire, she and Forrest got into a physical altercation due to what had happened.

"The cat was still alive when it got out of the fire," Snyder said. "A lot of people were there, but no one tried to help the cat."

She went on to say Lott returned to find his kitten badly burned and learned what had happened. He called 911.

Captain Billy Nix of the Winona Police Department testified that he responded to Lott's 911 call. He testified that when he arrived at Lott's home on Harper Street, Lott was very upset. Nix took custody of the kitten and took it to Winona Animal Advocacy Group (WAAG) member Jeanette Weed. Weed rushed the kitten to Winona veterinarian Dr. Daniel Hill, and the kitten had to be humanely euthanized due to the extent of its injuries.

"The bottom of his paws were burned, his stomach was burned, his back legs, and his whiskers were singed off," Nix said. "When I got there, the cat was just meowing."

"Non-stop?" Winona prosecutor Putt Crull asked.

"Yeah, non-stop," Nix responded.

Crull asked the court to enforce the maximum sentence allowed by law: $2,500 and six months in jail. Forrest was sentenced to 45 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.

"This conduct is reprehensible," Lancaster said, prior to sentencing. "I can't believe a person could do that to an animal. I can't imagine anyone being so cruel as to throw a living animal into a burning fire."

In other court news:

• Lemarcus Hune of Winona was administratively bound over to a Montgomery County grand jury for felony evading. Bond was continued at $5,000. The charges stem from a chase with Winona Police officers February 12. In court Tuesday, Hune pleaded guilty to contempt of court, no driver's license, no insurance, and first offense driving under the influence and was ordered to pay a $2,387.50 fine.

• A bench warrant was issued for Adrian Sanders for not appearing in Tuesday's session of Winona City Court. Sanders, who is currently out on a $1,000 bond, is charged with felony domestic violence.
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