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January 11, 2020

Deer abuse video leads to cruelty charges for two Pennsylvania teens

Investigations Animal Cruelty
Deer Abuse Charges Pennsylvania Game Commission /Facebook

Two Pennsylvania teenagers have been charged with animal cruelty and related offenses after a video that surfaced late last year allegedly showed them abusing an injured white-tailed deer.

Two Pennsylvania teenagers will face criminal charges in the wake of an investigation of a video that allegedly showed them abusing a deer in the woods of Jefferson County, the state Game Commission announced.

Alexander Brock, 18, and an unidentified 17-year-old juvenile will both face animal cruelty charges stemming from the Nov. 30 incident in which they allegedly filmed themselves kicking an injured white-tail deer.

Video of the incident first surfaced on Facebook after a concerned citizen spotted it on Snapchat. The teens were seen laughing as one of them repeatedly struck the immobile deer, which appeared to have been shot while the teens were out hunting.

When investigators interviewed the teens, they allegedly admitted they were hunting together in an enclosed tree stand on property owned by Smith's family in Beaver Township. The juvenile allegedly shot the deer, missed with a second shot and then proceeded to strike the deer while Smith filmed it.

The video sparked public outrage and calls for the boys to face punishment. Smith was identified as the step-son of nearby Brookville's police chief, Vince Markle. The Brookville city solicitor later said there would be no preferential treatment given to Smith in the investigation.

The Game Commission faced public criticism as the investigation wore on without resolution, but officials said it was necessary to get the facts in order before filing charges. 

“It’s easy to understand why people were outraged by the incident,” said Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners President Tim Layton. “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."

Smith is charged with multiple counts of aggravated cruelty to an animal as well as corruption of minors, tampering with evidence and related offenses. The cruelty charges alone carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison.

Similar charges were filed against the 17-year-old, who will be tried in the juvenile court system.

“Obviously, this case has generated a large amount of public outcry,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett. “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 prosecution. I commend the Pennsylvania Game Commission for their efforts in this matter.”