A Chester County ex-con who blamed the use of illegal drugs for his actions in burning four kittens to death was sentenced Friday to two years in prison.
Christopher Rainey, 27, pleaded guilty to arson and ill treatment of animals in the May incident at his family’s home in Great Falls.
He used gasoline to burn down a shed that had five kittens in it, said Sixth Circuit Solicitor Candice Lively. Rainey also pleaded guilty to other incidents of illegal use of a vehicle and damage to the Chester County jail after his arrest.
“A fifth kitten somehow survived,” said Lively, who asked Rainey receive the maximum sentence of five years in prison under a negotiated plea deal.
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Rainey has a criminal record dating back a decade, that includes two stretches in prison for burglary and assaults and other crimes, Lively said in court.
Rainey pleaded for mercy from Judge Dan Hall. He admitted in court that he had “smoked marijuana all the time” and that he had used both methamphetamine and cocaine while not taking his prescribed medications for mental health problems.
“If I am allowed a second chance and can go home, I do have goals I plan to accomplish,” Rainey said.
Rainey said he had been taking prescription drugs, including Ritalin, Xanax, Zoloft and others, since he was 6 years old.
“The list goes on,” Rainey said about the prescription medications he has taken.
Rainey’s lawyer, 6th Circuit Public Defender Mike Lifsey, said the combination of illegal drug use and Rainey not taking prescribed medications led to his actions that ended with the deaths of the kittens. Lifsey asked that Rainey get treatment instead of prison.
Family members of Rainey said he needs mental health treatment, and blamed his failure to take prescriptions for Rainey’s actions.
“He does crazy stuff when he is off his medications,” said Rainey’s mother, Tammy Lane.
A court-order mental health evaluation found Rainey was fit to stand trial.
Hall said it is clear Rainey “needs help.” He said the court system is ill-equipped to handle mental health treatment, but that illegal drug use does not excuse the criminal actions of setting the fire and burning the kittens.
“You admitted yourself that the drug use was no excuse,” Hall said.