Newport rabbit killer avoids jail time - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Newport rabbit killer avoids jail time

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Andrea Medeiros

He was led out of court in handcuffs, but there will be no prison time for the Newport rabbit killer.

Tuesday in court, former Salve Regina student Nicholas Coyle pleaded guilty to killing a rabbit with a hockey stick and using the rabbit's body as a puck.

The judge sentenced him to two months home confinement, a punishment many are calling a slap on the wrist.

Coyle hid behind an inmate as he was led out of court Tuesday afternoon on his way to the ACI. The 20 year old's stay would be a short one.

He was sentenced two months of home confinement after the former Salve Regina student admitted to killing a rabbit last November and using it like a hockey puck.

"It sends a message that you can maliciously kill and mutilate an animal in the state of Rhode Island and essentially walk out of the courtroom a free individual," said Animal Cruelty Officer Joe Warzycha.

Animal advocates were outside the Newport courthouse shocked Coyle's charges were dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor.

His lawyer made a plea deal with the state for home confinement, some probation, and mental health counseling.

"I think in this case it was an appropriate thing for the state to do, to amend it down" said Defense Attorney Susan Perkins, "He's a young boy. He's got a bright future ahead of him."

Coyle is reportedly going to college in Long Island after losing his lacrosse scholarship at Salve, a privilege Warzycha said someone like Coyle doesn't deserve.

"Manipulating the rabbit as though it was a hockey puck and then hitting it with a hockey stick. I mean this was a heinous crime," said Warzycha.

But despite the guilty plea, Coyle's father continued to defend his son. "He didn't do it," yelled the father outside court Tuesday.

Animal advocates are hoping two other animal cruelty cases going on in Rhode Island will set a harsher precedent.


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