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A Long Beach man who allegedly killed multiple adopted cats will spend two years in jail after agreeing to a plea deal with prosecutors.
Steven Ullery, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of animal cruelty in December, reports the Los Angeles Times. He was sentenced Tuesday to two years in Los Angeles County Jail. Ullery had faced up to five years in prison if convicted at trial.
What led to the charges against Ullery and his plea deal with prosecutors?
At trial last year, prosecutors accused Ullery of torturing and killing adopted cats, reports Los Angeles' KCAL-TV. After the cats were killed, Ullery allegedly brought the cats back to the nonprofit organization from which the cats had been adopted and asked for a refund, claiming the cats were defective. Investigators determined that Ullery and his wife had also brought other cats to a Long Beach animal hospital in 2013; those animals died, with injuries including blunt trauma and being choked to death.
Ullery and his wife disputed these allegations, claiming that in at least one case the injuries had occurred when the cat fell from the refrigerator. Ullery's first trial ended in a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a verdict. Ullery was set to begin his second trial when he decided to take the plea bargain offered by the prosecution.
Animal cruelty charges vary by state, with some states punishing the crime more harshly than others. Under California law, however, a person who maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures, wounds or kills a living animal can be found guilty of a felony.
Ullery was taken into custody following his sentencing Tuesday. In addition to two years in jail for his guilty plea in the case, Ullery will also be prohibited from owning or caring for an animal for 10 years. Ullery's wife was not charged in connection with the cats' deaths.
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