The two South Portland girls accused of torturing a cat by placing it inside a microwave last September denied the charges yesterday. The girls, who are minors, will undergo a psychological evaluation before returning to Judge Keith Powers’ court in June.
The pair posted footage of the alleged incident on video social network Vine, which they subsequently shared to Twitter. The short video went viral, invoking the wrath of both 4chan and mainstream commenters before resulting in their arrest. The original video has been removed, though it is still rehosted on Gawker. The footage is disturbing but not explicitly graphic.
“They were just doing something they thought was funny,” said Eric Cote, the girls’ attorney. “They wanted to make movies. They were playing … I think they didn’t understand what took place here.”
“I’ve been involved in cases with very bad people who did kill cats. That is a sign of a very bad personality,” Cote said. “These girls don’t appear to have any intention of doing that.”
The Portland Press Herald reports that the girls were initially charged with a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals but that the charge was raised to a felony aggravated cruelty to animals charge after the kitten’s health deteriorated. Because they are minors, however, it’s unlikely that, if found guilty, the teens would be subject to the full penalty that a class C felony would entail. The kitten, renamed Miracle, was eight weeks old at the time of the alleged microwaving, and appears to have recovered fully.
“The kitten certainly would have died, but for the aggressive and somewhat invasive treatment she received at the (Animal Refuge League),” according to a statement from Dr. Leah Goodman, of Forest Avenue Veterinary Hospital, to whom the kitten was taken.
The girls have been released pending future court appearances. They must meet a curfew set by a juvenile community corrections officer, attend school, and obey house rules. The Portland Press Herald reports that failure to violate those rules could lead to detention at the Long Creek Youth Development Center. Subsequent to the video going viral and their arrest, the teens have been subject to bullying and harassment online and in school, reports the Herald. Their attorney has not yet responded to our request for comment about what measures are being taken to keep the girls safe.