The high school science teacher who came under fire last year after feeding a live puppy to a snapping turtle has been found not guilty of animal cruelty.
A six-person jury reached the verdict on Friday after a two-day trial that took place last week. East Idaho News reports that a Franklin County court heard Robert Crosland’s case for misdemeanor animal cruelty charges. The jury reportedly deliberated for less than 30 minutes before reaching their not guilty verdict.
“I would just like to thank all [for] the support that I’ve received,” Robert told reporters after the trial concluded. “I’d like to thank this community for staying behind me. It’s really what got me through all of this.”
The incident took place in March 2018. According to witness testimony given during the trial, Robert’s son Mario received the puppy from a farmer he knew. Mario testified that he quickly realized the puppy was ill and that it refused to eat. He and his sister attempted to nurse the puppy back to health, but it became clear within a day that the cloudy-eyed and emaciated puppy wouldn’t make it. Mario and his sister gave the puppy to their father, who decided to feed the puppy to either his python or his snapping turtle. It was common knowledge that Robert feeds live (not dead) small animals to the reptilian pets he keeps in his classroom.
After attempting to feed the puppy to the snake (who wouldn’t take it), Robert eventually fed the puppy to the snapping turtle in his classroom. The high school teacher had stayed late to help one of his students with a project, and a few students had remained behind. After checking that the students didn’t have an issue with seeing it, Robert put the puppy in the snapping turtle’s water tank, where the animal was pulled under and then eaten.
Prosecutors argued that the puppy had suffered and that it was therefore an act of animal cruelty. But the defense countered that Robert is a known animal lover and beloved teacher in the community, which the witnesses (consisting of current and past students) all attested to.
The turtle was seized and euthanized by Idaho Department of Agriculture officials in March after the case gained national attention due to being considered an invasive species in the state.
Footage provided by KSTU Salt Lake City
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