Texas Man Filmed Beating Turtle to Death with a Hammer Claims Self Defense
A Texas man faces a state jail felony charge of animal cruelty after a video of him beating a snapping turtle to death with a hammer went viral, but he claims it was an act of self defense.
On Thursday, June 21, Facebook user Geoffrey Frank posted a video of 55-year-old Terry Wayne Washington striking a snapping turtle with a hammer at Lady Bird Lake in Austin, crushing the animal's shell and skull.
The graphic video was shared thousands of times. Word of the disgust generated by the video must have reached Washington, because he turned himself in at Austin's Gardner Betts Juvenile Detention Facility two days after the video was posted.
On Tuesday, July 26, Washington was charged with cruelty to a non-livestock animal - a state jail felony. He also faces misdemeanor charges of hunting non-game wildlife without a license and illegal dumping of wildlife resources.
Washington argues that the video doesn't tell the whole story, and that he was only defending himself and a friend.
According to Washington, the animal lunged at him after snagging his companion's fishing line and being pulled to shore. Witnesses said it appeared as if Washington's companion wanted to free the animal, but Washington took the hammer to it instead.
Washington admitted to game wardens that he made no effort to free the animal from the line and wanted to get the hook back.
The fishermen said turtles had been scaring away fish all day.