Health Care and Law

Man sentenced to jail for horse barn fire

December 13, 2017
| By AP |
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A man who pleaded guilty to setting a fire that killed 13 horses in the area 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 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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