A jury has found an Idaho teacher who fed a puppy to a snapping turtle in front of students not guilty of animal cruelty.
Robert Crosland, a science teacher at Preston Junior High School in Eastern Idaho, was charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty in connection with the March 2018 incident.
On Friday, a jury in Franklin County delivered a verdict of not guilty following a trial that included testimony from students who were in the classroom, as well as from Crosland’s adult son Mario, KSTU-TV reported.
One student said he had stopped by to talk with Crosland after school and to hold the animals in his classroom when the teacher told him he had a sick puppy and asked if the teen wanted to take it home, according to KSTU.
The teen said Crosland then told him and other students in the room that he was going to feed the puppy to the turtle and asked if they wanted to watch.
“He let us hold it first,” the student said, referring to the puppy. “It was small, one-handed size for a person with big hands.”
He said Crosland then put the puppy in the turtle’s tank, where it swam around before the turtle dragged it to the bottom.
Defense attorney Stratton Laggis reportedly said that while his team did not dispute that Crosland fed the puppy to the turtle, they didn’t believe a crime was committed.
“I honestly thought I was doing the right thing by putting it out of its misery,” Crosland said in a recording of an interview with investigators, according to KIDK-TV.
The Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Laggis, and Preston Junior High did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ requests for comment.
The Idaho Statesman reported that the courtroom on Friday was packed with friends, family, students, and teachers in support of Crosland.
“His whole life has been for animals, and seeing people try to destroy him when he’s has devoted his life to them,” Mario Crosland testified through tears, according to KIDK. “He has done all he can to help animals.”