Charges loom in cat-shooting case

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: June 28, 2011, 7:12 PM

 

Three teenagers accused of shooting more than100 cats agreed Tuesday to postpone arraignment so that prosecutors can have more time to decide whether to try them as adults.

In a tightly packed courtroom, Mitchell Kangas, 16, Jaren Koistinen, 16, and Riley Munger, 17, appeared before Clark County Superior Court Judge Rich Melnick to waive the speedy filing of charges.

The three were arrested the night of June 5 in Battle Ground in connection with a string of animal shootings in northern Clark County.

Prosecutors are deciding whether to charge the teens with drive-by shooting, a crime that means they would have to be tried as adults under Washington law. Prosecutors are also considering lesser charges of animal cruelty and unlawful discharge of a firearm, which would mean they would be tried as juveniles instead.

Tom Phelan, attorney for Koistinen, told the judge that defense attorneys are continuing discussions with prosecutors on the case. Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu also said that he’s still receiving police reports, as the case has a number of alleged victims.

Melnick set a new arraignment for July 26.

The teens, who are free on bond, left the courtroom quickly afterward with several family members and supporters in tow.

Koistinen and Kangas were sophomores at Battle Ground High School and Munger a junior at La Center High School when they were arrested.

They were implicated in the shooting spree after a resident called police June 5 after her cat was shot in the face. She saw the shooters and described their SUV to police, according to court documents.

When the teens’ Ford Explorer was stopped by a police officer minutes later, two .22-caliber rifles and several hundred rounds of ammunition were found inside, according to Battle Ground police. When questioned, Kangas allegedly admitted to shooting 50 cats, two dogs and a deer in northern Clark County over the past two months, according to court documents.

Prosecutors have said they estimate between 100 and 200 cats were shot.