JEFFERSON COUNTY — One of the two teens allegedly seen torturing a whitetail deer in a video that went viral last month has been charged with aggravated animal cruelty and related offenses, court documents show.
Alexander Brock Smith, 18, of Brookville, Jefferson County, is charged with four felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, one misdemeanor count of corruption of minors, a misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor count of altering or destroying physical evidence, and summary offenses of disturbance of animal or wildlife, unlawful taking of game or wildlife, unlawful hunting devices or methods, and a hunting violation.
The incident was investigated by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The criminal complaint affidavit did not identify the other teen seen in the video because of his status as a juvenile.
Paperwork containing the juvenile’s charges also was filed today, which begins the process of the charges being sent to juvenile court, the Game Commission said.
The video shows both teens stomping and kicking a live, wounded whitetail deer in the head multiple times, the complaint says. The video, posted over the weekend of Nov. 30, drew fierce condemnation by thousands of people who viewed it.
An online petition calling for criminal charges to be filed against the teens gathered more than 700,000 signatures.
The complaint said the other juvenile was interviewed by the Game Commission on Dec. 3, accompanied by legal counsel. The juvenile said he and Smith were hunting deer from a tree stand on Smith’s property in Summerville, Jefferson County on Nov. 30.
The juvenile told investigators that around noon, he shot the deer recorded in the video with a round for a .450-caliber Bushmaster rifle. The animal was wounded, but still alive, the juvenile said, and the teens began stomping on and kicking the deer because they did not have any other means of finishing it off, the complaint states.
The juvenile reported that he had inadvertently fired a round into the floor of the tree stand after his first shot hit the deer, the complaint states. He allegedly told investigators he fired a second shot at the deer as he and Smith approached it, but missed the animal from about 10 yards away, and that was the last live round he was carrying. The juvenile reported that neither he nor Smith had hunting knives; the juvenile said his was in a vehicle about 250 yards away.
The complaint states that the juvenile admitted a total of three videos of he and Smith kicking the deer were shot on Smith’s iPhone, and that Smith had sent the videos to others using the messaging app Snapchat. The juvenile told investigators that both he and Smith kicked and stomped on the deer, which lost an antler during the incident. The juvenile told investigators he kept the antler that fell off, according to the complaint.
After their attempts to kill the deer failed, the animal got up and ran off, the juvenile told investigators.
The deer was never recovered, investigators say.
When the video surfaced on social media, creating a public outcry, Smith allegedly contacted the juvenile and instructed him to delete the videos.
According to the complaint, investigators collected the juvenile’s cell phone after the interview. The juvenile also gave investigators the antler he had kept from the deer, the complaint states.
On Dec. 4, the complaint states, a witness who had received the videos sent by Smith contacted the Game Commission and provided the videos to investigators.
Investigators then obtained a search warrant for Smith’s iPhone.
Forensic testing of the phones provided by the witness, the other juvenile, and Smith recovered all three videos, the complaint states.
On Dec. 16, the complaint says, investigators interviewed Smith, who confirmed most of what the juvenile had told them.
Smith was arraigned on charges today before Magisterial District Judge Gregory M. Bazylak and was released on $50,000 unsecured bail, according to the Game Commission.