Two former Rockland officers were sentenced Thursday for beating porcupines to death on several different occasions while on duty.
Addison Cox, 28, of Warren, and Michael A. Rolerson, 31, of Searsmont, were sentenced in Knox Superior Court on misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals and night hunting, according to court documents. Both officers pleaded guilty.
Cox was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with all but 10 suspended. He was fined $1,000 and was placed on administrative release for six months, during which he is barred from applying for jobs in law enforcement and must complete 100 hours of community service, court documents state.
Rolerson was sentenced to 270 days in jail, with all but 20 days suspended. He was also fined $1,000 and placed on probation for six months. The terms of his probation require that he give up his Maine Criminal Justice Academy Credentials.
Cox will serve his jail time on the weekends, and Rolerson is expected to begin his sentence in January, according to court documents.
Rolerson received a heavier sentence than Cox because he was the senior officer and killed more animals, District Attorney Natasha Irving said. Prosecutors agreed to reduce the charges to misdemeanors in part because both men were military veterans who had served active duty, Irving said.
Rolerson has previously told investigators he has post-traumatic stress disorder from serving in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan. Cox also served in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan. Irving said both men are receiving treatment from the Veterans’ Administration.
“That was a mitigating factor, that they both experienced war zones,” Irving said. “Ultimately I want them never to hurt another living thing again […] I think that addressing the mental health component, I think that’s a really important part of it.”
In late August, the animal abuse was revealed after another officer reported the killings to superiors, according to a Maine Warden Service report obtained by the Courier Gazette.
Both officers were fired on Sept. 22.
Rolerson estimated that he killed eight porcupines, according to a report from the Maine Warden Service. Cox said he killed three himself.
Rolerson told investigators he believed the porcupines to be a nuisance, either on the road or at his camp where they would cause damage. Cox told investigators that he looked up to Rolerson, who was his superior, and wanted to be like him.