DETROIT (WWJ) – Two former Grosse Ile High School lacrosse players have avoided jail time after pleading guilty to killing a guinea pig in a pre-game ritual.
Tanner Coolsaet, 17, was sentenced Wednesday to two years probation and Michael Roth, 18, was sentenced to three in connection with the incident last April.
Judge David Groner said there was concern the teens may be dealing with “deep-seeded issues” — but professionals determined it was just bad judgement.
“I’m no psychiatrist, but I know both your lawyers have looked into these issues. You have both been in counseling, you come from outstanding families, you have bright futures,” Groner said.
Coolsaet and Roth both apologized before the court, saying they regret their actions. They were ordered to pay $1,000 each to the Michigan Humane Society and not to have any unsupervised contact with pets, other than their own.
“It doesn’t mean you can’t go visit someone that has a dog or a cat or…another animal,” Groner clarified. “You just can’t be left alone; you can’t dog sit or cat sit.”
Coolsaet and Roth in July were charged with two counts: animals – killing/torturing and conspiracy to commit killing/torturing of animals. Those charges are felonies, carrying a maximum four-year penalty.However, taking into account that the teens had no prior criminal record, Groner granted them each a lighter sentenced under a program for young offenders.
A third defendant, who was 16 when he allegedly stabbed the guinea pig, is being charged as a juvenile. He’s scheduled to appear in court next week.
According to prosecutors, Coolsaet and Roth bought the guinea pig and then brought it to a team meeting on April 30. Witnesses at a preliminary hearing testified that the animal was made to unknowingly chose its own fate by walking to one side of a table or the other.
Coolsaet had a knife and slit the guinea pig’s throat. Roth then grabbed the animal and struck it with a small bat. After the animal was dead, team members are said to have painted their faces with its blood while one player dipped his tongue in it.
The incident prompted the school to suspend the remainder of its lacrosse season while authorities were investigating.
These legal troubles do not seem to have interfered with the teens’ college plans. Coolsaet will be attending Laurence Technological University next fall and Roth is headed to Ferris State.