MIAMI -- A South Florida judge ordered a 19-year-old to serve five years of probation and community service as punishment for setting a caged animal on fire and feeding it to his dogs.
Prosecutors had sought jail time for Roberto Hernandez after the acts were caught on surveillance video, saying the animal was a stray cat and calling it a "brutal case."
The Miami Herald reported that Circuit Judge Nushin Sayfie said she believed Hernandez, who claimed the animal was actually a rabid raccoon that reportedly had been attacking farm animals.
Sayfie said that although she doesn't think a raccoon should be treated that way, she based her decision on Hernandez's age and the fact that prosecutors rarely seek such jail sentences for first-time offenders charged with third-degree felonies.
Hernandez had no prior criminal history.