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Utah man pleads guilty to torturing kitten, possessing drugs

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Provo man has pleaded guilty to torturing a kitten and possessing drugs, CBS affiliate KUTV reports

Spencer Pedersen, 26, was originally charged with two counts of torturing a companion animal and two counts of possessing drugs. Monday in Fourth District Court, Pedersen pleaded guilty to one count of torturing a companion animal and one count of possessing heroin. The other two charges were dropped.

Pedersen is scheduled to be sentenced January 24.

“We are very pleased with the result,” said Utah County prosecutor Julia Thomas. “We are expecting that he will be held accountable for his conduct.”

Pedersen was arrested in November after Provo police officers said they found a kitten on fire and had to later euthanize the animal.

While investigating, police said, they found a dead cat in Pedersen’s trash as well as heroin and drug paraphernalia. A neighbor also reported finding another dead kitten in Pedersen’s dog run, police said.

Police told KUTV in November they believed Pedersen may have killed as many as 11 cats. However, he was just charged with two counts of torturing a companion animal.

Pedersen’s plea deal prompted a strong reaction from the Humane Society of Utah. The group said allowing charges to be dropped sends the wrong message.

“Spencer Pedersen committed disgusting acts of violence and premeditated torture, and our legal system will set the example of what is tolerable behavior by their treatment of this case,” said humane society executive director Gene Baierschmidt in a statement. “If Pedersen’s charges are reduced, and he is not sentenced to the full extent of the law, we feel this sends a message to our community that this behavior is not taken seriously.”

Thomas, the prosecutor, defended the plea deal and said Pedersen “essentially pled as charged.” She also noted his third-degree felony charges were not reduced.”

Pedersen faces a sentence of zero to five years in prison for each count.

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