updated 11/14/2006 6:38:16 PM ET 2006-11-14T23:38:16

A man pleaded guilty in the deaths of his ex-girlfriend's four small kittens, which were tossed into a fire pit after the couple argued.

Robert Tomlin, 22, of Smithsburg was sentenced Monday to 1 1/2 years in jail for aggravated animal cruelty. Washington County Circuit Judge John McDowell suspended the sentence except for the 134 days Tomlin has served since his arrest.

In the plea bargain, charges of assault for allegedly striking former girlfriend Kelli Ann Green and destruction of property were dropped.

"Taking defenseless animals as you have, and destroying them ... there is no excuse for that," McDowell told Tomlin.

Washington County prosecutor Robert Veil said Tomlin had been drinking July 2 and Green left after he hit her, leaving her ear bloody.

"When she returned to the residence, she heard a hissing in the fire," Veil said, and discovered the burning corpses of the kittens. She said Tomlin told her from jail that "he should have finished what he started."

The judge ordered Tomlin to have no contact with Green or her family or with any animals or pets, and to undergo mental health and substance abuse evaluation.

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