Contact 13 Investigates
Teens accused of drowning kittens: What were they thinking?
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The two teenage boys accused of killing newborn kittens by drowning them in a cup of water are raising a big red flag in the eyes of the court.
It's a case Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has been covering for more than a week.
This is the second day of court hearings in this case and we're finally getting some insight into what the boys may have been thinking.
Juvenile justice authorities say the boys thought they were humanely euthanizing feral kittens.
They also say one of the boys' fathers condoned the act that prosecutors say is outright cruelty.
Darcy: Would you like to comment on behalf of your son and on behalf of the allegations that they're actually making against you supporting this activity? Do you have anything to say about that? We'd really like to get your side and hear something from you guys.
Father: Well, you know, I didn't support the activity.
Darcy: You don't?
Father: No, I did not.
That's not what the state said in court just a few minutes earlier.
"I interviewed the father and it appears that natural father condones and justifies subject minor's actions. And I feel that the supervision level is questionable.," an official from Juvenile Probation Services told the judge.
When Darcy Spears brought that up to the boy's father, he put his hand in the camera and literally ran.
Darcy: Running away doesn't look good.
The father of the Cimmaron High School student who's charged, along with his friend, of drowning two newborn kittens with a barbecue tool, didn't want to talk about what else authorities found in his home.
"Subject minor does have access to weapons, he knows how to use them. He's been hunting since he's been 12. There has been a few incidences where dad has provided alcohol to subject minor."
A search of the home where the alleged drowning took place turned up several bottles of alcohol in the 16-year-old's bedroom. It's a home where Metro has been out four times in four years on domestic violence calls.
"I believe there could be larger, underlying problems and this could signify a larger problem in the future," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Watson:
Judge William Voy echoed those concerns.
"There's two major red flags that we have out there that cause us at this end in the juvenile justice arena to be extremely concerned about what's going on in a youth's mind. Those two red flags happen to be animal cruelty, and the other red flag is fire-setting.
"Those two red flags lead sometimes to the conclusion that you have a pathological mindset and you're developing sociopathic tendencies, in which case that's extremely serious, because the literature says there's not much you can do to fix that."
And that's what neighbor Christine Ohm is worried about. She's the eyewitness who took pictures of the boys and the dead kittens and reported it all to authorities.
"They were laughing and they didn't think anything was wrong with it and neither did the dad--if we don't get them now, what is next?"
Thomas Ericsson, the teen's defense lawyer, offered an explanation for the drowning.
"The boys had played with the kittens. At that point there was concern that the mother would reject them because the kittens had been handled by humans and that they were going to starve or in the heat they were going to die from that. And the way they went about handling this, was it appropriate? No. But as I'm sure you're aware, Las Vegas euthanizes thousands and thousands and thousands of feral and pet cats because people aren't spaying and neutering them. Not justifying the conduct, but this wasn't violence against other people, it was inappropriate conduct involving the animals."
The second boy's attorney offered no explanation.
His client stood in tears for most of the hearing, clutching his mother's hand.
When we asked his family for comment outside the courtroom, a man standing with the boy's father said to Darcy Spears, "Great job you're doing. Aggravating the family and the public."
Darcy: Drowning kittens is aggravating the public. Not me trying to get both sides of the story.
The man, who was standing with the boy's father, wouldn't say who he was, but he kept talking.
Darcy: We're just trying to get both sides of the story.
Man: But you're not gonna get it here because we don't know the story. And you don't know it. And nobody knows it at this point but two kids. And they're not talking yet.
Everyone agreed the boys need counseling, and maybe their families too.
The boys have been in jail for three days now, and will remain there while risk assessments are done.
They've got a plea hearing scheduled for Monday morning, and we will, of course, be there for that.