He was charged with the crime in June and would have faced up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine. However, the local jury declared him not guilty after a half hour deliberation. Witnesses reportedly testified that the Preston Junior High School teacher first tried to feed the puppy to a snake, when the snake did not eat the puppy, the witnesses said Mr Crosland put the puppy into a tank where the snapping turtle killed and ate it.
During his trial on Friday, a recorded interview of Mr Crosland was played in the court in which he was heard saying that he thought he was doing the right thing because the puppy was sick and its death was imminent. Crosland further added that he came into possession of the puppy due to his son- who later corroborated that story. The feeding reportedly took place after the school hours, in the presence of three students who were in the classroom-who later testified that they had no issue with what had happened.
“Obviously we didn’t believe the facts amounted to a criminal offence when the law was applied,” Shane Reichert, a lawyer representing Crosland stated. “The reality was that there was a ton of misinformation and gossip that were not actual facts or evidence,” he continued. Post-trial, Mr Crosland expressed his gratitude to the local community for supporting him. He presently retains his teaching job at Preston Junior High School.
The Idaho Humane Society called the Franklin County jury’s decision to find Robert Crosland not guilty of animal cruelty a “grievous error in judgment”. In a statement, the IHS said: “This travesty does not create any new precedence for allowing cruelty but rather, will undoubtedly serve as a rallying cry for those who care passionately about the welfare of animals to renew their efforts in communities throughout Idaho.”