Pennsylvania teen who tortured dying deer avoids prison sentence; case highlights need for mental health evaluations in animal cruelty instances

By on May 15, 2020 with 32 Comments

A Pennsylvania court this week allowed an 18-year-old to avoid prison time for a crime that shocked Americans when a viral video of it surfaced earlier this year: in the video, the young man and his friend were seen torturing a dying deer, kicking him in the head and even ripping off his antler as the frightened animal cried in pain and tried to escape.

The two young men were charged soon after with felony animal cruelty under Libre’s Law, a landmark 2017 Pennsylvania law that increased penalties for egregious animal cruelty. This was a heartening development, because we often find that in most animal cruelty cases the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, and the new law finally gave Pennsylvania a strong tool to ensure that those who commit such terrible animal cruelty are held accountable. It also set a precedent in Pennsylvania for future wildlife cruelty cases to be charged under Libre’s Law.

This week, the older teen was sentenced to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals and summary counts of violating state hunting regulations. His hunting license was also revoked for 15 years. The more serious charges, including a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals that carried a penalty of up to seven years in prison, were withdrawn. (The other teen, who is 17, has been charged as a juvenile).

However one may feel about the outcome, one thing is clear: there is a lot more that remains to be done to ensure that animal cruelty crimes are treated with the seriousness that they deserve.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this case was the apparent apathy of the young men to the pain and suffering of a dying animal: they could be seen laughing as they videotaped themselves on their phones hurting the terrified deer in his final moments.

Research has drawn a clear link time and again between animal cruelty and acts of human violence. It is a link we ourselves have often reported, including in the case of the high school shooter who boasted of killing animals before he shot and killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. Just last week, we heard of this case in South Carolina where a dog was found shot inside the home of a man facing multiple charges after a domestic violence investigation.

That’s why the Humane Society of the United States is now asking prosecutors in Pennsylvania to consider mental health evaluations and counseling for cases involving such egregious animal cruelty. We are working closely with state organizations, including the State’s Center for Children’s Justice, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, to develop a free seminar for law enforcement and social service professionals centered around the important relationship between animal cruelty and family violence.

We are also supporting a state bill, the Animal Welfare Cooperation Act, HB 1655, which will encourage cross-agency partnerships and collaboration that will be particularly helpful with complicated cases under Libre’s Law or investigations that cover multiple jurisdictions. The bill would, among other provisions, allow the office of the attorney general to provide free training for district attorneys and humane police officers on handling complicated animal abuse investigations. In one year alone there are more than 18,000 animal abuse offenses reported in Pennsylvania, and this law would better equip law enforcement agencies to address them.

We need your support to get this bill passed so if you live in Pennsylvania, please call your state lawmakers and ask them to support H.B. 1655. This case also highlights the importance for each one of us to be vigilant and report animal cruelty when we see it happening, so those who cause such intense animal suffering do not have a chance to repeat it.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. R.K. Mitchell says:

    Way to go, PA….such a shining example!

  2. Michelle Kehm says:

    This is absolutely atrocious. Everyday I hear and sign more petitions than I can count on the growing number of animal cruelty cases. It’s appalling and something must be done.

  3. LoveCats says:

    This lenient sentence is unfortunate so I hope the new law in PA will yield better results next time. It’s hard to imagine that anyone who would torture a dying animal has appropriate human/humane feelings. It will be interesting to see if these two teens end up getting caught again.

  4. Lisa Barnes says:

    This is just so unbelievable so disgusting and then to find out about the outcome That nothing really happened to these kids makes it So disturbing

  5. Carole Jackson says:


  6. Anne Asdourian says:

    Too many teens have no conscious when it comes to animals, let alone older people who do the trophy hunts. I couldn’t finish reading the story it was so gruesome to read. I hope that kid got some stiff community service to do and counseling. Otherwise here comes the next serial killer?
    Too much cruelty all around the world.

  7. judy eddy says:

    what is wrong with kids like that? They turn out to be serial killers lots of the time. Punishment needs to happen now and jail time for sure in my opinion.

  8. Lisa gast says:

    Little POS should pay for what he did you don’t keep a deer in the head and Terrell their antlers make them in more pain God put us here to help animals not to torture who should pay for what he did put him in prison

  9. Gun-Britt Barkman says:

    Stop this

  10. Christine Vercellino says:

    Prison time for animal abusers. I am sick of the slap on the wrist they routinely receive. Animals deserve better than what they get. Protection, respect and love not neglect, abuse and horrendous conditions many are fireced to live for our so called entertainment.

    • Helen says:

      Maybe the judge needs a different address for allowing these ignorant kids to walk! Community service for TORTURE????? Where is the Justice for this animal. I watched that video and it was BLATANT TORTURE. SHAME ON THAT JUDGE FOR LETTING THEM WALK.What was a law against animal cruelty made for? To “set an example”. Yeah the judge did that. Let the little SOB rotten bastard WALK. SHAME on that judge. He NEEDS TO BE REMOVED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Timothy Coffey says:

    Teens and young people who hurt innocent Animals many times are the ones that commit violent crimes

  12. steve lowen says:

    Laws must be tightened to provide a balance in dealing with animal abuse, and treated as a Felony. Remember, these miscreants will go on to harm more animals, spouses, and children.

  13. Barb says:

    WHY do people get away with animal cruelty? They should receive some kind of punishment for the heinous acts that they do. If unpunished what would stop them from doing it again? Would they like it if they were treated the same way as they do to innocent, helpless animals? I think not. But, it’s an idea.

  14. J. Adams says:

    Another loser animal abuser looking more like the victim than the criminal. Torturing an animal they injured should have brought prison sentences forthright ugly juvenile too. One of their father’s is a cop so…..

  15. Regina says:

    This guy will pay for this. If not in this life in another one. People who torture animals are beyond evil!

  16. Satinya L Dale says:

    The only person who can cure evilness and wickedness is God. Unless these “humans” start a relationship with Him, they will never change. They are sociopathic sadists who need to be punished severely to be taught anything. Their sentences should have been 5 years in prison, $200,00 fine, and no hunting or ownership of animals for the rest of their lives. They are not going to learn from such a lenient sentence. They will hurt animals again.

  17. Dave says:

    Did they get milk and cookies with thier gentle nudging on the wrist. How much did it cost big daddy the cop and who did he pay off.much too lenient of a “sentence “, I bet if it would have been a regular Joe’s kid , he would been hung.

  18. ABS says:

    Please include the name of the 18-year old. It was surely included in court documents. That individual does not deserve privacy protection.

  19. JohnnyJet says:

    If this perp got no jail time, what is considered a serious enough abuse of an animal to warrant 7 years?!?! WTF?!?!?

  20. Nancy says:

    And obviously zero mental health evaluations or mandatory treatment at least. This won’t be their last interaction with law enforcement.

  21. Jill woehrle says:

    Terrible that these creepy kids got off so easy. A felony should warrant some jail time and stiff fines. The cruelty and lack of compassion for other living beings is not something to dismiss. This judge did an injustice to all, including these teenagers. That poor deer deserved some justice for the suffering inflicted on him.

  22. Barbie Carrino says:

    KID NEEDS HIS ASS KICK! That’s when they learn! And have all Animals with was it! Or not to sure if it’s to late to educate him

  23. Lisa R-D says:

    To those commenting about the Dad being a cop, it’s his Stepfather who is a cop and that’s who turned him in. I wish the punishment would have been worse too because this isn’t the only time this kid has brutalized an animal on video. I’m glad he lost his hunting lisence for a long time. I think he should lose the ability to legally possess a weapon as well.

  24. Jesse says:

    His dad was chief of Brookville Police wish some people would protest this shit.

  25. Leslie says:

    Animal cruelty crimes must be treated with the seriousness that they deserve… Fancy lawyers can get ‘perps’ like this off the hook and we have to close loopholes. Age is of no consequence in situations like this, they knew what they were doing. HARD TIME.

  26. Johannes says:

    If the excuse for over population is used then consider Trophy Hunting for Humans s the world has a big problm with that .Heavily OVERPOPULATED

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