A Colorado Springs man will serve a year in prison in the torture death of his roommates' pet cat, a judge ruled Thursday, citing the case's sexual overtones and what he called its "utter inhumanity."
In ordering 22-year-old Stephen Lee Alexander into custody, 4th Judicial District Judge William Bain said a probationary sentence wouldn't fit the crime.
"The utter inhumanity of the act was overwhelming," Bain said, after noting that Alexander was found guilty at trial of not only crushing the animal's skull, but inserting something into its rectum while it was still alive.
The cat - a 4-month-old black-and-white domestic called Phantom - was found Jan. 25 in the bushes outside the Pinons apartment complex in east Colorado Springs, where Alexander had been staying with a couple who owned the animal.
That night, Alexander was drunk and disappeared into another room while holding the cat, according to testimony at a 2 ?-day trial in July.
When a roommate heard a noise and went to check on Alexander, the cat was nowhere to be found - but blood and fecal matter were spattered on a living room wall.
Alexander's attorney, Elvin Gentry, argued at trial that Alexander accidentally stepped on the cat, then let it outside because it was scratching at a door.
He speculated the animal was later hit by a car in the parking lot, and said authorities didn't perform tests to prove that the material on the wall was actually the cat's biological material.
Jurors rejected the explanation, and Alexander was convicted of aggravated animal cruelty and a sentence enhancer for causing the rectal injury.
A veterinary pathologist who testified for the prosecution said something the diameter of a "No. 2 pencil" had been inserted into the animal while it was still alive. He discounted the possibility that Alexander had sex with the animal, saying it was physically impossible.
Because Alexander has a juvenile conviction for indecent exposure, he was ordered to undergo a psychosexual evaluation that determined he was at "maximum risk" to reoffend.
Alexander shook his head repeatedly as the judge blasted him from the bench. In addressing the court before sentencing, he stuck to his claims of innocence and said he paid his attorney "thousands of dollars" to clear his name.
"I'm telling you man to man," he said in pleading tones, later adding:
"I love animals."
Saying the crime had shocked the community's conscience, prosecutor Tanya Karimi requested that Alexander be placed on sex-offender intensive supervised parole, along with a work release sentence to jail.
In imposing a stiffer penalty yet, Judge Bain said Alexander used cocaine and hashish while out on bond and appeared set "on a path towards major crimes."
Alexander must serve a year on parole upon his release, Bain ruled.