Charges are finally filed in the Pennsylvania deer abuse case.
Remember that awful deer abuse video that lit a firestorm of fury across the Internet a few months ago? Two Brookville, Pennsylvania teenagers have now formally been charged with felonies in the case.
The video, which showed the young men laughing as they repeatedly kicked what appeared to be a dying deer, made worldwide headlines.
Now, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is charging 18-year-old Alexander Brock Smith and a 17-year-old juvenile male with multiple felony counts. (The commission does not release the names of minors.)
The first count for each young man is for aggravated animal cruelty and the second is for conspiracy to commit aggravated animal cruelty. Smith was also charged with misdemeanors for cruelty to animals, corruption of minors and tampering or fabricating physical evidence. He was also hit with summary counts for disturbance of game or wildlife, unlawful possession and unlawful devices and methods.
The 17-year-old's additional charges include misdemeanors for cruelty to animals and tampering or fabricating physical evidence. Summary counts for him included disturbance of game or wildlife, unlawful possession and unlawful devices and methods.
Some new details about the case are also emerging with the Game Commission's announcement. Officials are saying the incident happened on November 30 when the two young men were hunting on a property in Jefferson County, in Beaver Township.
As many have already suspected, the deer was shot. Officials are saying the 17-year-old was the one who originally wounded the buck. His follow-up shot missed. After that was when the video of the young men kicking the deer was taken.
This video was subsequently shared through Snapchat. From there, it was shared almost immediately with the Game Commission on Facebook. This is when officials say the investigation began.
Additionally, one of the video's original recipients also saved it on his phone to share with wildlife officials.
The investigation surrounding two individuals who were recently depicted in a video assaulting a deer continues. State...
In the weeks after the video went viral on the Internet, the Game Commission had to make repeated pleas to the public for patience on the issue. Officials said hundreds of calls flooded their offices to report the video in the weeks that followed.
Many people on social media expressed frustration with the Game Commission on this incident and the length of time it ran. But the Commission's press release stated it was necessary.
"Even in this case, where there was video of an unlawful act, investigators had to determine it happened in Pennsylvania, where the Game Commission has authority to file charges, as well as collect evidence to prove the teens committed the act and posted the videos," the press release reads.
Game Commissioners President Tim Layton commented on this issue too in the release, saying: "It's easy to understand why people were outraged by the incident. But the worst-case scenario would have been rushing the investigation and heading into court with a case that wasn't as strong as it could have been."
The release says Smith was arraigned on the charges on January 10 and was released on $50,000 unsecured bail. The 17-year-old's charges were filed that same day to be sent to juvenile court.
The maximum fines for the felonies are stiff. The teens could be facing a maximum of seven years incarceration and a $15,000 fine for each felony count. Some of the misdemeanor charges are serious too, with the cruelty to animals charges bringing a potential max of $5,000 in fines and two years incarceration.
Smith's corruption of minors charge could earn him an additional five years in prison and another $10,000 fine. And of course, both teens are likely going to lose their hunting license for a very long time.
We will keep an eye on this case to see how it develops here at Wide Open Spaces.