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DA: Schenectady man gets 18 months in killing of cat

DA: Schenectady man gets 18 months in killing of cat

He was convicted after trial in June
DA: Schenectady man gets 18 months in killing of cat
Donald Birch Jr.
Photographer: Schenectady County District Attorney (inset); Shutterstock (background)

SCHENECTADY - A city man was sentenced to 18 months in jail Tuesday for killing a cat after it had been hit by a car, Schenectady County District Attorney's officials said.

Donald Birch, Jr., 35, received the sentence after being convicted in June of one count of aggravated cruelty to animals.

Judge Matthew Sypniewski imposed the 18 month sentence. Birch had faced up to two years. Sypniewski also issued an order barring Birch from owning any companion pet for 50 years.

The jury found that on Aug. 31, 2018, Birch beat his neighbor's cat Smokey to death on Union Street in front of the cat's owner, prosecutors said. Witnesses contacted police during the attack. 

Smokey had been hit by a car moments earlier, prosecutors said. The jury rejected Birch's claims that the cat had suffered injuries justifying killing it, a claim prosecutors argued was contradicted by results of a necropsy.

"What Mr. Birch did was horrifying to all who witnessed it," Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said in a statement. "He had no business intervening in this situation and beating this poor cat to death before his owner had a chance to seek medical assistance from a veterinarian."

Assistant District Attorney John Carson prosecuted. Birch was represented by attorney Cheryl Coleman.

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