Matthew Jerome, 22, of the 1300 block of Rockhill Street, was sentenced Monday in Allen Superior Court for two counts of torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal and one count of cruelty to an animal. He will spend a year in jail.
Jerome took a plea agreement Dec. 20 in lieu of a trial. The charges stem from events in the summer of 2012 when he burned a kitten.
Police say Matthew Jerome burned the kitten's whiskers with a cigarette lighter and allegedly dropped the animal into a fire pit in his yard, according to Allen County court documents. A woman brought the kitten to Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control with burned paws, tail and whiskers.
A woman living with Jerome told police that her sister had allegedly seen Jerome holding a lighter to the kitten's whiskers. The woman living with Jerome told police that he built a fire and started burning pictures and letters from her after an argument, the documents said.
In an interview with police, Jerome said he may have "bumped" the kitten, which belonged to the woman, into the fire pit and walked away, the documents said. But animal-cruelty expert Dr. Randy Lockwood told police that although the kitten could have slipped into the fire, it appeared more likely to have been dropped in, the documents said.
Judge Wendy Davis, in accordance with the plea agreement, gave Jerome three years for each of the two counts of torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a class D felony, with 1 year to be served on each count, two years suspended and one year of adult probation, and a one-year suspended sentence for the count of cruelty to an animal, a misdemeanor offense. His sentences are to run concurrently. He was also ordered to get his GED and to have a psychological evaluation.