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 64 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including a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals that carried a penalty of up to seven years in prison, were withdrawn.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!

    • Dawn Neymeiyer says:

      Way to go? These kids walked away with less than a spanking! It says this case set precedent for future cases like this.. That’s a crying shame!!

      What justice was done for the deer?

    • Linda Laird says:

      Shining example my ass. If it was your dog…you wouldn’t think so. Sociopaths in the making!

  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.

    • Liz from va says:

      They will for much worse things most likely

    • Diane Ferrell says:

      I think they should reinstall mental institutions for these people who do these monstrosities. They aren’t normal and somehow need to be helped.

  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. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    No podemos permitir que estas situaciones sigan pasando y que gente asi siga en la calle con tendencias a acesinas

  6. Carole Jackson says:


  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. Gun-Britt Barkman says:

    Stop this

  11. 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Timothy Coffey says:

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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…..

  16. Regina says:

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

  17. 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.

    • Trina Fidler says:

      They will continue to abuse animals no matter what you do to try to help them . And I suppose our taxpayers are footing the bill to try to help them
      THEY WILL DO IT AGAIN .. Put them in jail for a long time, and make them help at a shelter, supervised of course!! KARMA..

  18. ER says:

    Way to go PA! Letting 2 entitled assholes off. That video was devastating… that helpless animal suffered and you guys did nothing!!! After I saw that they would be prosecuted to full extent. Idiots ! We are the poor animals voice cause they don’t have one. Parents are useless twats too! You’ve raised such fine young men!

  19. Linda Small says:

    I blame a lot on the Judges presiding over the case, they hear what people do but yet all they do is give the offenders a slap on the wrist. The Judges need to punish the offenders and show that their behavior is not going to be tolerated. When this happens and people see that their actions are going to be punished then maybe people will start thinking​ if I do wrong I am going to be punished.

  20. S.J. Gander says:

    Mental health evalulations should be “required” if anyone is guilty of abuse of animals… abuse is not “normal” human behavior… at least I hope it would be considered abnormal!

  21. SteelCtyGrl says:

    This is why nothing. ever. changes. when it comes to animal cruelty.

    What good is Libre’s Law if these subhumans get off with a slap on the wrist. Such bullshit. Complete disregard for ANY life of a living, breathing, sentient being should be punishable to the fullest extent. To add insult to all of this is the laughing and making fun of the poor deer as it cried out in pain. It’s infuriating. It’s like they’re a black, empty shell of a human. Disgusting.

  22. Lyn T. says:

    I am Appalled!!!! I went to school to become a Animal Control Officer when I read these things and all the Comments from the People my heart just Races!!!
    It’s the Judges they are the ones who see the Evidence They Know it’s Wrong!!!
    So what’s Wrong with Them????
    They are the ones who can make things Right!!! This was So Inhumane to the Highest Level!!! Take their hunting license Away For Good!!! Make them go to jail!!!
    MAKE Them Pay!!! Make them listen to the Horrifying Screaming Over And over and over!!!! The Judges Are Disgusting
    And Inhumane Themselves!!!!!!!

  23. Don Livingston says:

    This case should never been allowed to plea down to misdemeanor. Why implement cruelty to animals If your not going to enforce it as written?

  24. Sharon Beesley says:

    Who was the judge? I will write to them

  25. Jen says:

    Smh they should have jail time what makes people think these delinquents won’t grow up to be serial killers? Smdh

  26. Kathy M. says:

    If that were my son who had committed this cruel and horrifying act he’d be in counseling asap. To LAUGH while inflicting pain on anything living is sick and so disturbing. Think Jeffery Dahmer or Ted Bundy etc…

  27. Jen says:

    Day after day , petition after petition nothing ever happens to these people! It’s starts with our youth.If you can’t redirect ,correct and teach compassion what happens when they are adults? The lack of compassion and criminal behavior they are getting away with is crazy and the slap on the wrist turns into adult crimes. They don’t care who they steal from who they lied to or who they hurt. The justice system is failing us and it’s definitely failing animals and the fact that people think animals don’t feel or matter just blows my mind ! May animals suffering be quick and justice be swift in this life or the next.

  28. M. says:

    Has someone made a petition for this?

  29. Peggy Allen says:

    The trouble with youth today is they just dont care who or what they hurt.I believe they are totally desensitized by the violence of video games and videos that they have been watching and playing since they were big enough to figure out a controller .And there are no consequences for bad behavior. So they feel they can do any damn thing they want.And the real sickos do stuff like this to animals then they move to human targets usually children or elderly. Lock him up and never let him out.Hes a menace to society. And the other guy needs some time too.Birds of a feather need caged together

  30. Janine Hodge says:

    I am so disappointed and disgusted with the outcome of this case. When I read about this incident, it made me sick to my stomach. My thought was since Libre’s Law was in effect, finally there would be justice for this poor animal that had to endure the abuse. Well, so much for the judicial system and the Judge who heard this case. I hope the Judge gets voted out and get ready PA residents, we will see these individuals in the news again.

  31. Kerry Sugden says:

    This is unimaginable what this ‘MAN’ did to this poor animal. Yes i said man…it states that he is 18yrs old thats an adult in most every state & it’s damn sure not as if he did not know what he was doing. Why can’t the judicial system look at this as if it were a poor helpless elderly person or a poor helpless child. If he could do what he did & listening to that ‘poor helpless animal’ scream out in pain & fear imagine if that were your grandmother or young child. No matter who or what he is tortuing, torture is torture & a person capable of such, he obviously has issues to even commit such a cruel & intentional act & should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. At least he may think twice before he does this again. But with very lil punishment there’s no telling what he will do next. Look at the Michael Vick situation. Is there ever going to be just punishment & justice served for the poor animals they so easily, tortured & murdered so cruely. Why even bother with voting & putting these laws in place if the judicial system always slaps them on the wrist & done. What is this world coming to that these poor innoscent victims have to suffer through such cruelty with no voice & just punishment for the ones committing these acts. PLEASE, PLEASE, DO YOUR JOB JUDGES & UPHOLD THE LAWS THAT HAVE BEEN PUT IN PLACE TO DETER SUCH ACTS! IF YOU DON’T …WHO WILL? STOP THESE PEOPLE ONCE & FOR ALL. MAKE EXAMPLES OF THEM MAYBE OTHERS WILL SEE THAT THIS IS NO WALK IN THE PARK& just maybe it might deter the next person who might think of committing such acts against anything or anyone. Please help these animals. Remember what I said & im sure everyone reading this will agree with me when I say “TORTURE IS TORTURE” “MURDER IS MURDER” you have the means to stop it …so please use it because JUSTICE IS JUSTICE so its time to show it for these animals before it ends up being someones elderly realative or young child. What a COWARD this person must be why didnt he pick a man his age to commit this act on…ill tell you why He’ a COWARD!!!

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. JohnnyJet says:

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

  35. Nancy says:

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

  36. 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.

  37. 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

  38. Mani Sadri says:

    They should throw them in jail for a really long time. That’s the only way to prevent them from doing this again to any other animal or to humans. They’ve already developed their belief system and nothing else will stop them from doing this type of thing again!

  39. Dee green says:

    I saw the video it was horrible Both of those boys deserve way more than what they got!!! An it wasn’t the first time there were other videos an pics on their social media of other animals!!!! It’s just sicking what they have done!!! Normal people don’t act that way!!! Definitely some mental illness lurking around in their little heads!!!! What kind of parents do these boys have !!! Something definitely wrong here!!! I was sick appalled an actually cried it was just so heartbreaking what they did!!! But these boys probably still don’t think it was wrong 😡🥵🤬

  40. 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.

  41. Jesse says:

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

  42. Steve Cantara says:

    Another case of the judicial system turning its nose up to society

  43. SLee says:

    Just another example of how attempts to just punishment for cruelty toward wildlife seems to always be hyjacked by pressure from the special interests groups and we know who they are. They should have stuck those low life losers in jail for plenty of years. It’s incredible to think that wildlife does not belong to hunters. Our Wildlife are the treasures that belong to all of us and define the beauty of a planet we are privileged to live on. We are the stewards and we are obligated to defend and care for our creatures. Cruelty is sickness ! To enjoy inflicting misery reflects a very dark mind , a disturbed person who is a potential threat to society and good people. States need to react to these crimes with strong decisive punishment .

  44. 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.

  45. 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

  46. Janice says:

    YOU WILL ANSWER TO GOD on judgement day……ALL animals are GODs creatures… so deserve to burn in hell for eternity.

  47. Jackie A Policara says:

    It’s a sin the court system allows abuse to go on for animals! They don’t enforce the laws like their suppose to!

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