NORTH ADAMS - The man accused of mutilating and killing five pet rabbits at a local business in June accepted a plea agreement Friday that sent him to the Berkshire County House of Correction for the next four years -- although he could get out in two years with good behavior.
A solemn Wayne Brackett Jr., 23, of East Main Street gave short answers to Judge Michael J. Ripps' questions Friday morning as he confirmed he understood the terms of the agreement.
Brackett admitted to sufficient facts and was sentenced to two years on each of the following counts: five counts of cruelty to animals, five counts of killing an animal, and one count each of breaking and entering into a building at night for a felony, wanton destruction of property over $250 and malicious destruction of property over $250. All the sentences except one will run concurrently, and he was granted a 92-day credit for time served because he has been incarcerated since his arrest on June 11.
If he makes parole in two years, Brackett will be on probation until Sept. 9, 2014. He must surrender a sample of his DNA and will have to do 100 hours of community service at a location other than an animal shelter.
On the evening on June 8, Brackett was captured on surveillance camera at Berkshire County Construction on Ashland Street as he unsuccessfully attempted to break into a truck. He then apparently flew into a rage and tipped over a rabbit hutch. The footage showed him ripping the ears and tails off at least one adult rabbit, flinging the pets against the building and stomping on one baby animal. Police said five rabbits were mutilated and killed, one of which was stabbed repeatedly with a knife and then hung on a chain from a fence. Although police only found the bodies of five rabbits, another nine are missing and presumed dead.
Brackett told police he did not remember anything from that night. He said he had been drinking vodka heavily, had smoked marijuana and believes he blacked out, according to the police report filed with the court.
John Duquette Sr., owner of Berkshire County Construction, came to court Friday to give a victim-impact statement. While Duquette spoke, Brackett, who had stood behind a glass partition that separates prisoners from the courtroom, sat down so he could not be seen by Duquette.
"The animals that were killed belonged to me and my granddaughter," Duquette said. "To hear it all again today is just overwhelming. My daughter-in-law couldn't even be here today because of it Mr. Brackett says he has no recollection of the event. Well, there's 40 minutes of footage of it happening, and he has plenty of time to see it. I think it would do him some good to see it."
Brackett's attorney, Richard LeBlanc, said his client was accepting the plea agreement against LeBlanc's strong advice because he wanted everything to be over with quickly.
"Because of some irresponsible comments from members of the media, Mr. Brackett's family has received threats against them," LeBlanc said. "They've received death threats; they've received hate mail directed at them. As a result, Mr. Brackett did not want this to be a drawn out thing. It's a shame that other people have decided to visit this on his family for something that is not their responsibility."