Roberto Hernandez

Teen sets cat on fire, watches it burn to death while relaxing with a drink, then feeds remains to his pit bulls: Prosecutor

A Florida teenager is accused of setting a cat on fire just to watch the animal burn to death, according to police.

Miami Herald reports that 19-year-old Roberto Hernandez is accused of setting a black cat on fire after trapping the animal in a small cage. The incident, which happened in 2016, was caught on security footage at Hernandez family’s property off of the 16600 block of Southwest 174th Avenue in Miami, in a rural “farmland” area.

Authorities arrested the boy in 2017, after a former neighbor turned over security footage, but a motion was filed last week at the Miami-Dade courthouse.

According to a Miami-Dade police report, Hernandez poured some type of flammable liquid over the cat, then began flicking lit matches onto its body until the animal burst into flames. The cat began jumping around and screeching out “in extreme pain and suffering seeking to escape while burning alive,” while the suspect “leisurely grabs a drink and watches the defenseless caged animal burn alive.”

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A couple who rented a home on the Hernandez property said they witnessed the teen “dousing a live cat with some sort of combustible liquid” before setting it on fire.

“He was very entertained burning the cat,” Marlene Gonzalez, who rented the home on the Hernandez property with her partner, said during a deposition.

The couple reportedly said Hernandez was a “brat” who didn’t want stray cats on the property. After witnessing the alleged incident, Gonzalez apparently couldn’t get it out her head. She reported the incident to Miami-Dade police.

“The defendant doesn’t stop there,” Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Nicole Garcia wrote. “He is seen opening the cage, grabbing the burned animal and throwing it to his pit bulls in order to finish killing the animal or to dispose of its remains.”

According to court documents, the defense claims that Hernandez didn’t burn a cat, but instead a raccoon that was supposedly rapid. Regardless, Florida law states that any “living creature” caused unwarranted pain and/or suffering is considered criminal animal abuse.

Hernandez’s grandmother, Babelin Rodriguez, said neighbors were complaining about an animal on the loose biting their legs, and that Hernandez found the animal, a racoon, and killed it on “first instinct” after the animal got trapped in the cage.

“All he would see in his head is that animal is going to get loose,” Rodriguez told NBC 6 Miami. “It’s going to bite the dogs. The raccoon is going to bite the dogs and him, so that’s the first instinct he had.”

Gonzalez, however, said she was clear that what she saw in the cage was a cat.

“I’m very sure it was a cat.”

Prosecutors said they wouldn’t object if the defense pushes for a “withhold of adjudication,” meaning that a conviction wouldn’t stick on the teen’s criminal record. They do, however, want him to serve jail and probation time, and do at least 100 hours of community service.

“Even if he was unaware of the statute criminalizing animal cruelty, it should be instinctively known to the average man of his age that burning an animal alive is wrong,” Garcia wrote.

Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.

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