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SCHENECTADY — A 35-year-old man who claimed he was putting an injured cat out of its misery has been sentenced to jail for stomping on the animal and smashing it against a utility pole in front of its owner.

The Schenectady County District Attorney's Office says Donald Birch Jr. was sentenced in county court on Tuesday to a year-and-a-half in jail. He was convicted of felony animal cruelty in June for killing his neighbor's cat after it was hit by a car.

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The jury rejected Birch's defense that he was simply putting the 7-pound gray tabby named Smokey out of its misery when he killed it in August 2018.

Prosecutors say a necropsy at Cornell University showed the cat's injuries from the car accident weren't bad enough to justify killing it immediately.

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