payton mellema e1513183846794 Man Sentenced To Jail In Michigan Fire That Killed 13 Therapy Horses

Payton Mellema (Booking photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) – A man who pleaded guilty to setting a fire that killed 13 horses in western Michigan has been sentenced to a year in jail and three years at a mental health facility.

Payton Mellema learned his punishment on Tuesday. He lived near The Barn for Equine Learning in Kent County’s Lowell Township, where the horses died in April. The horses were used as therapy for children and young adults with a variety of special needs.

Mellema earlier pleaded guilty to arson and animal cruelty. He’s already served about eight months in jail, so officials have a few more months to find a mental-health facility. If an appropriate facility can’t be found, Mellema will be behind bars longer.

Prosecutors and Mellema’s lawyer say he has mental health issues and needs treatment.

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