An Idaho teacher who fed a sick puppy to a snapping turtle in front of several shocked students has been found not guilty of animal cruelty.
Preston Junior High School science teacher Robert Crosland was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty in June.
Witnesses testified the puppy swam around before it was dragged to the bottom of the tank by the snapping turtle and became unconscious.
But a jury found him not guilty of animal cruelty after his defense attorney did not dispute the claims but argued ‘we don’t believe a crime was committed’.
Crosland had argued he was ‘putting the puppy out of its misery’ in an interview with investigators.
Robert Crosland, left, smiles after he was found not guilty of misdemeanor animal cruelty
Robert Crosland listens as potential jurors are asked questions during his misdemeanor animal cruelty case on Thursday, January 3
He said: ‘I honestly thought I was doing the right thing. That’s what’s been so hard in seeing all this because that’s what I’ve been taught my whole life not to let the animal suffer.’
Prosecutor David Morris said the incident occurred after normal school hours with four students present, WTVR reports.
One student, 14, said he played with and touched the ‘small, cute’ puppy which ‘looked like a lab’ before Crosland is said to have first tried feeding it to a snake.
The teen said he moved it to the turtle’s tank when the snake did not eat it.
Students said the puppy ‘wasn’t doing its best’ and that you could see its ribs.
Crosland’s son, Mario, argued this is why his father had fed the puppy to the turtle and said: ‘If you can lose a life to help another, then why not.’
Following the verdict, Crosland said: ‘I’d like to thank this community for staying behind me. It’s really what got me through all this, just their comments and talking to me and expressing their love.’
Robert Crosland, right, and his attorney Shane Reichert listen as potential jurors are questioned
Superintendent for Preston schools, Marc Gee had said in a news release that his administration became aware of ‘a regrettable circumstance involving some of the biological specimens’ on March 7.
‘The event occurred well after students had been dismissed and was not a part of any school-directed program,’ Gee said. ‘We emphasize that at no time was the safety of students or staff compromised.’
The school is in rural Preston, Idaho, where the 2004 teen cult classic film ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ was set.
The state’s attorney general’s office handled the investigation after Franklin County Prosecutor Vic Pearson cited a conflict of interest.
Crosland had been accused of feeding a sick puppy to a snapping turtle in front of several students and was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty. He is seen feeding a rat to the turtle in a different class
The school is in rural Preston, where the 2004 teen cult classic film ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ was set
Following the incident, state officials seized the turtle and euthanized it as a non-native species.
The incident had drawn national criticism against Crosland with a petition to have him fired circling the internet, garnering more than 243,000 signatures.
‘Unfortunately, on March 7, [Crosland] decided to feed one of those creatures – a snapping turtle to be exact – a puppy,’ the petition read.
‘Please join in demanding that Robert Crosland be fired for this disturbing decision!’ the petition reads.
A counter petition signed by community members, former students and current colleagues expressing support for the long-time science teacher has accumulated roughly 4,000 signatures, the Statesman reported.
The incident had drawn national criticism against Crosland with a petition to have the educator fired circling the internet, garnering around 243,000 signatures now