Pennsylvania teens who ripped off deer's antlers and skinned it in disturbing video hit with criminal charges
Alex Smith, 18, and his 17-year-old male friend were charged with animal cruelty on Friday for the video they posted on Snapchat in November, 2019
Warning: Distressing content
JEFFERSON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA: Two Pennsylvania teens have been charged with felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty after they posted a video online that showed them torturing a wounded deer.
Alex Smith, 18, and his 17-year-old male friend were charged by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office on Friday for a video that shows the two torturing the wounded animal in a wooded region of the state.
According to social media users who spotted the video, the two accused had shared it on the platform Snapchat and suffered consequences after other users screenshot the video and posted it online to bring them to justice.
Soon, outrage ensued with over 700,000 furious people signing a petition urging authorities to charge the teens with crimes committed and impose maximum sentences on them.
Smith and the accomplice have now been charged with two counts of felony aggravated animal cruelty, two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated animal cruelty, corruption of a minor, and tampering with physical evidence.
If convicted, Smith faces up to a maximum prison sentence of more than 37 years. His accomplice, who is still legally a juvenile, would have his penalty determined in the juvenile court system.
The graphic footage shared by the show shows them kick the wounded deer repeatedly and then laugh about it. After the poor animal draws its last breath, the two proceed to tear off one of its antlers in the video posted last November.
Ever since going viral on social media, the disturbing video has drawn a lot of attention from the enraged public.
"It's easy to understand why people were outraged by the incident," Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners President Tim Layton said in a press release. "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."
Jeff Burkett, the Jefferson County district attorney, said: "People have assumed that officers have been dragging their feet when, actually, the opposite is true. They have put a lot of hard work in on this case in order to present the case for the prosecution. I commend the Pennsylvania Game Commission for their efforts in this matter."
Smith is the stepson of Brookville, Pennsylvania Police Chief Vince Markle, reports KDKA-TV. While he was arraigned and released on $50,000 unsecured bail, the younger accomplice is about to head to juvenile court.