Teens who shot cats under house arrest pending sentencing

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

Updated: September 15, 2011, 6:16 PM

 

Three teens who pleaded guilty Wednesday to shooting cats in the Battle Ground area will be under house arrest pending sentencing next month, a judge said Thursday.

While Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu wanted the teens to be remanded into custody at the Clark County Juvenile Justice Center, Superior Court Judge Rich Melnick took the recommendation of a juvenile court probation counselor who said the teens are in school, live with their parents and do not have problems with drugs or alcohol.

That means they meet the standard to be under house arrest, Melnick said.

Sentencing will be 10 a.m. Oct. 4 at the Clark County Juvenile Justice Center.

Mitchell Kangas, 16, and Jaren Koistinen, 17, have admitted to shooting at about 100 cats and two dogs during a three-month spree earlier this year. On Wednesday, they pleaded guilty to 12 counts of first-degree animal cruelty and one count of drive-by shooting.

Riley Munger, 17, who said he only participated in one night’s shooting, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of first-degree animal cruelty. Munger faces a 30-day sentence in the county’s juvenile detention facility.

Kangas and Koistinen face one to two years in a state juvenile institution.

Melnick told Vu that had the prosecutor’s office tried the teens as adults, they would have likely been remanded into custody because in Superior Court the most important factor in considering pre-sentencing release is the nature of the crime.

Under juvenile guidelines, however, the teens are considered to be a “low risk” because they have no other criminal history and have parents who told Melnick they will make sure their sons follow house arrest rules.

Their parents all assured Melnick that they do not have firearms in their homes. The teens can leave their homes to go to school, church and work, Melnick said.

The teens are second cousins, but are under order to not have any contact with each other. Melnick said they can avoid each other at school and church.

Melnick also told them to avoid any pet owners whose animals were shot.

“He may not even know them, your honor,” said attorney Tom Phelan, who represents Koistinen.

Melnick said he understands that, but he doesn’t want to hear any report of the defendants talking to students whose pets were shot.

“You’re going to get in trouble, not them,” Melnick told Koistinen. “So use some common sense.”

Kangas and Koistinen are juniors at Battle Ground High School and Munger is a senior at La Center High School.