HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — Two Brookville teenagers accused of repeatedly kicking a wounded deer in the head and pulling off its antler were charged Friday with aggravated cruelty to animals and other offenses. The Pennsylvania Game Commission filed charges against Alexander Brock Smith, 18, and an unnamed 17-year-old, for what was described in an arrest warrant as the torture of the buck that the 17-year-old had shot and wounded.
“Hunters are taught at an early age to hunt ethically, to be respectful of the game they hunt, the property upon which they hunt and other hunters,” Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said. “The Game Commission’s Hunter-Trapper Education program emphasizes these longstanding principles to new hunters.”
Video of the Nov. 30, attack circulated quickly on social media and generated outrage, along with pressure on investigators to solve the case.
“It’s easy to understand why people were outraged by the incident,” Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners President Tim Layton said. “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 was arraigned Friday and released on $50,000 unsecured bail. Messages were left seeking comment from attorneys for both defendants. The 17-year-old was charged as a juvenile, and court records in his case were not immediately available. A message was left with the county prosecutor.
Smith’s arrest affidavit said both defendants told investigators what occurred after the 17-year-old shot the whitetail deer while hunting from a tree stand on Smith’s family property in a remote region, about 75 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Both defendants live in Brookville.
The younger defendant shot the deer at about noon on Nov. 30, and he missed as he attempted to shoot the deer a second time. The 17-year-old told investigators he did not have another round of live ammunition with him.
“He and Smith began to repeatedly kick and stomp the deer, attempting to kill the deer,” according to the police affidavit.
The deer appeared to be temporarily paralyzed and was seen on video struggling with each kick, while Smith stood on the animal’s back leg, the Game Commission charged.
The video showed the right antler was removed from the animal — it was later recovered from the 17-year-old’s home.
The deer ran off and has not been located, Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau said. Investigators searched the area and used dogs, to no avail.
“We did find other deer that had either been shot or road kills that were in there and unrecovered, but we didn’t come up with any evidence that contradicted what they told us, that the deer had run off,” Lau said.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)