AR-News: (US_WA) Second boy gets deferred sentence in killing of cat
wolfcrest at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 7 18:13:50 EDT 2003
Second boy gets deferred sentence in killing of cat
Spokane Valley teen could have charge erased
Jesse Tinsley - The Spokesman-Review
Rusty Rardon wipes away a tear Thursday during a court appearance on animal
The second of two Spokane Valley teenagers who abducted a cat and set it on
fire also will get a felony animal cruelty charge erased if he completes a
Rusty Rardon was given a deferred sentence Thursday by Superior Court Judge
Richard Schroeder, hearing a Juvenile Court case.
Rardon's buddy, Jason Brumback, also was given a deferred sentence on
Tuesday by Schroeder.
"This court has to be consistent in applying the law to both of them,"
Schroeder said in granting the deferred sentence to Rardon.
Like Brumback, Rardon also must complete 150 hours of community service,
including 50 hours in an animal care or treatment facility. The teens must
pay $592 to county animal control for the cat's medical bills and $250
apiece for their public defenders.
If Rardon or Brumback violate any conditions imposed during the one-year
period, they will be brought back to Juvenile Court for direct sentencing
with a felony record.
The judge said he based part of his reasoning on Washington state law, which
says only juveniles convicted of crimes of violence are ineligible for
First-degree animal cruelty is not currently defined under Washington state
law as a "crime of violence."
"I know what I did was wrong," Rardon told the judge and Bernie Womack, who
owned the 2-year-old brown tabby her family called "Max."
The cat was abducted from Womack's front porch at 11:30 p.m. on July 20 by
the two teens, who told deputies they were bored.
At the time, Brumback was a runaway from his family's home in Northwood and
Rardon was living in a single-parent home with his mother, who works nights.
The boys, who had obtained gasoline, drove the cat in Brumback's Dodge truck
about five blocks to a darkened school field.
Brumback doused the cat with gasoline and Rardon struck the match, turning
the animal into a "running fireball." The cat was euthanized three days
"I apologize," Rardon said. "I'm very sorry."
Both boys were charged with first-degree animal cruelty, a felony.
Schroeder, who is retiring, was assigned the high-profile case by Judge Greg
Sypolt after it ignited a firestorm of public outcry this summer, including
a petition drive.
If the two 17-year-olds complete a checklist of conditions, including spot
drug testing, they will have the felony charge wiped from their records next
Like she did in Brumback's case, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sandra Gabriel
argued that Rardon should have a permanent felony record and not get a
Gabriel said Rardon lied about what occurred and "did not accept
responsibility" until his defense attorney moved for the deferred sentence.
Juvenile Court probation officer Michelle Barbeau also argued against a
Among her reasons, the probation officer said Rardon violated terms of his
home detention when juvenile court officers found marijuana residue and a
bong-pipe at his home in August.
His father committed suicide three years ago and his brother took his life
five years ago, Barbeau told the court.
The judge also was told the boy may suffer from a bi-polar mental disorder
and have Attention Deficit Disorder, but is receiving no treatment or
Megan Manlove, Rardon's court-appointed public defender, requested the
deferred sentence so Rardon can join the Marines without a felony record
when he completes high school.
The judge's ruling didn't rest well with courtroom spectators, including a
young woman who murmured, "This is a joke."
Others, including Chris and Bob Anderlik said the case shows the Legislature
needs to redefine animal cruelty as a crime of violence.
The judge also said he couldn't order more confinement for Rardon because he
already has completed 30 days of home confinement, the maximum allowed by
the law for first-degree animal cruelty.
Under the law, a day of home detention equals a day in Juvenile Detention.
Both Brumback and Rardon were given credit for 30 days of home detention.
That law just changed, and home detention prior to a juvenile conviction
won't count as a day in juvenile detention, court officials said.
Rardon's mother, Bonnie Mustain, was in the courtroom, but did not address
the judge. His grandmother, Jackie Mustain, who lives in Montana, said her
grandson deserved the break a deferred sentence would give him.
"If I'd heard this from anybody but my daughter, I wouldn't have believed
it," Jackie Mustain said of the crime.
Neighbor Jaynee Anderson, who described herself as an "animal lover," also
urged the court to give Rardon the deferred sentence.
Since the crime, she has befriended the boy, and he has come to her home to
help her administered injections to her cat who's dying of cancer, Anderson
told the judge.
Rardon also checked in with her by phone when he was on home detention,
Rardon's neighbor said "nobody was there for Rusty" when his brother and
father separately committed suicide.
"Now we need to be there for him as a community," Anderson said after the
Womack, standing nearby, said she expected the deferred sentence. "It will
make him or break him," she said.
"I do feel both sets of parents need to take responsibility for what
happened here," Womack said.
"I'm just glad it's over," the cat's owner said.
Then she went to the prosecutor's office to pick up a bouquet of flowers
delivered Thursday to the Womack family.
The card was only signed, "Love, Max."
Bill Morlin can be reached at (509) 459-5444 or by e-mail at
billm at spokesman.com.
In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be
cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the
name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are
at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.
-- Ruth Harrison, author of Animal Machines
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