A rural Rice Lake man could face more than 41 years behind bars and/or fines of more than $100,000 after allegedly throwing kittens out the window of his trailer home and, later, setting the home on fire, according to a complaint filed Friday, July 12, 2019, in Barron County Circuit Court.
The defendant is identified as 37-year-old Eric T. Thorson, 2183 18 ½ Ave., Unit 24A, Rice Lake.
A Barron County Sheriff’s Deputy and the Rice Lake Fire Department both responded to a 911 call Thursday afternoon, July 11, which said someone “was out of control and had started a fire.”
The trailer park manager told the deputy the defendant “wanted help getting rid of his kittens,” but was told he would have to wait until the next day when his landlord came.
A short time later, the defendant’s roommate ran to the manager’s apartment, saying the defendant “was slamming the kittens on the concrete.”
Another witness said he was sitting in front of his house, next door to the defendant’s home, and saw “the defendant … throwing kittens out the door … and down to the ground onto the blacktop pavement.”
The witness said he tried to reason with the defendant and get him to take the kittens to an animal shelter. He then went outside to retrieve the animals.
As he did so, the witness heard someone yelling “he (the defendant) set the house on fire.”
The witness saw smoke coming out of the home. He and the manager went inside the defendant’s home, found a small fire, and threw a blanket over the flames to put them out.
The defendant allegedly told the deputy that he went to the home, balled up some newspaper, lit it on fire and walked out.
The deputy reported that the defendant took a breath test later at the jail, and it registered .316, nearly four times the state’s legal limit of intoxication.
An official with the Rice Lake-based Community Cats Coalition later arrived and took custody of four kittens and their mother.
The complaint charges the defendant with felony arson and two misdemeanors, disorderly conduct and mistreating animals.
Court records said the defendant is free on signature bond pending a preliminary hearing Monday, July 22.