BROOKVILLE — The Pennsylvania Game Commission filed charges Friday related to the video circulating social media of two Brookville teenagers repeatedly abusing a deer while hunting on Nov. 30.
The Game Commission filed charges against Alexander Brock Smith, 18, of Brookville, including four felony charges, two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals – torture, two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals – causing serious bodily injury or death, three misdemeanor charges of corruption of minors, cruelty to animals, and tampering with/fabricating physical evidence, and four summary charges of drive or disturb game, taking/possession of game or wildlife, use of device/method prohibited by chapter, and violating rules and regulations of game commission.
The Game Commission also filed charges against a 17-year-old juvenile, of Brookville, in the juvenile court including four felony charges, two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals (conspiracy), two misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals, and tampering with/fabricating physical evidence, and four summary charges of drive or disturb game, taking/possession of game or wildlife, use of device/method prohibited by chapter, and violating rules and regulations of game commission.
Each of the felony charges filed against Smith come with up to seven years incarceration and up to $15,000 in fines. The misdemeanor and summary charges also come with their own fines and incarceration times. The penalties for the charges filed against the juvenile will be determined in the juvenile court. Both are going to have their hunting license revoked for many years.
The video of the two abusing a white-tailed deer has circulated social media, and been seen by thousands of people worldwide at this time, according to the Game Commission website. The Game Commission’s Facebook page and phones have been inundated for months by concerned citizens demanding action be taken against the two teens.
Each of the teens were interviewed for the investigation and allegedly confirmed they were hunting together on the day of the incident on property owned by Smith’s family in Beaver Township, Jefferson County. While hunting the juvenile allegedly shot at the deer, wounding it, then missed with a follow-up shot. This shot immobilized the deer, at which point the video of the two kicking and abusing the deer was allegedly taken.
Smith was arraigned on these charges Friday before Magisterial Judge Gregory Bazylak, and released on $50,000 unsecured bail. He also waived his right to a preliminary hearing, and will be moving to the Court of Common Pleas. The paperwork for the juvenile’s charges was also filed Friday and began the process in juvenile court.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said these charges bring an end to the thorough investigation of an incident that has drawn much attention and public outrage. Though the public expressed their frustration with the length of the investigation on the agency’s Facebook page, cases where charges are likely to be brought under the state’s Game and Code, a thorough investigation is important because of the speed at which a hearing is likely to be held.
In this case, the video showed an unlawful act, but investigators had to determine for sure the act took place in Pennsylvania where the Game Commission has the authority to file charges, as well as collect evidence of the teens committing the act and posting the videos.
Posts by hunters to the agency’s Facebook page have made clear the community has for such actions.
“Hunters care deeply about wildlife,” Burhans said. “It’s through their decades of dedication to the outdoors that we enjoy healthy and sustainable population of wild birds and mammals, and that those wildlife species that encounter trouble are identified and afforded additional protection.”
Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett also spoke on the length of time and work done by the Game Commission on this investigation.
“People have assumed that officers have been dragging their feet when actually the opposite is true. They have put a lot of hard work in on this case in order to present the case for prosecution. I commend Pennsylvania Game Commission for their efforts in this matter.”