Teens set to plead guilty to shooting animals
In deal, prosecutors opt for juvenile charges against trio
Originally published September 13, 2011 at 9:46 a.m., updated September 13, 2011 at 6:34 p.m.
Three teenagers implicated in a cat shooting spree are expected to plead guilty Wednesday to juvenile charges, a deputy prosecutor said.
Late Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors filed 12 counts of first-degree animal cruelty and one count of drive-by shooting against Mitchell Kangas, 16, and Jaren Koistinen, 17, both of Battle Ground. Two counts of first-degree animal cruelty were filed against Riley Munger, 17, of La Center.
The three are expected to be sentenced at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
If the case is not resolved Wednesday through the plea deal, the three will have a review hearing Friday in adult court, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu said.
The case has been in limbo since June, when the three were arrested, because prosecutors were deciding whether to charge them as adults. Prosecutors have been in negotiations with defense attorneys ever since to resolve the case.
Vu could not yet offer details about the plea bargain, namely the potential sentence, saying it will be revealed at Wednesday’s hearing.
New details emerged in court paperwork filed Tuesday. While charging papers only identify 12 animals that were shot, prosecutors allege Kangas and Koistinen “had driven around Battle Ground, Amboy, Yacolt and other parts of north Clark County and shot at approximately 100 cats, injuring or killing about 50 of them,” according to court documents.
The shootings reportedly stretch from March to June.
Asked for a reason for the shooting spree, “Kangas indicated that he considered it to be like sport hunting,” according to court documents.
Of the animals shot, the teens admitted to shooting two dogs fatally, a Doberman pinscher named Max in March, and an American Eskimo named Roger on Mother’s Day. Of the others, prosecutors said “some of the animals were killed by the gunshots, some had to be put down due to the extent of the gunshot wounds, and others survived through the efforts of their veterinarians,” according to court documents.
The three defendants were first implicated in the shooting spree after a resident called police June 5 and reported that her cat was shot in the face. She said 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 by investigators that evening, Kangas and Koistinen allegedly detailed the other shootings:
“Koistinen explained that they would drive through neighborhoods looking for cats to shoot, stop the vehicle if they spotted a good target, looked around to see if anyone was watching, aim the rifle with the scope out of the window, and shoot the cats from inside the vehicle,” Vu wrote in a probable cause affidavit.
Munger told police that June 5 was the only evening that he allegedly participated in the shootings. He said he didn’t shoot any cats, but allegedly pointed out two for the others to shoot, according to court documents.
Kangas told investigators that the rifles allegedly used in the shootings belong to his father, who normally kept them in a gun safe at home, according to court documents.