South Florida Teen Accused of Setting Caged Cat on Fire Avoids Jail Time

A South Florida teen accused of setting a caged cat on fire in an incident that was caught on camera has avoided jail time.

Roberto Hernandez, 19, was sentenced to five years of probation by a Miami-Dade judge at a sentencing hearing Friday. He will also serve 100 hours of community service, must undergo a psychological evaluation and will be enrolled in a recidivism reduction program as part of a plea deal.

Hernandez, who was facing an animal cruelty charge, was 17 when the incident happened in July 2016. Hernandez and family members claimed the animal was a raccoon that was believed to have been attacking other animals and had rabies.

Surveillance footage showed Hernandez dousing the animal that was in a cage with liquid and setting it on fire. The footage showed the animal jumping around the cage in extreme pain.

Miami-Dade prosecutors had requested Hernandez be sentenced to just under a year in jail.

"While we are disappointed with the sentence imposed on Roberto Hernandez, which excluded our recommendation he serve time in jail, it is our sincere hope that this young man who brutally caused the torture and death of a defenseless caged cat, will adhere to any suggested psychological or psychiatric treatment imposed by a duly qualified physician," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.

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