MOORHEAD, Minn. An 18-year-old was sentenced to jail and community service for his part in setting a snapping turtle on fire, an incident he and his friends videotaped and posted on the Internet.
Under the sentence handed down Monday, Joel Charles Ross, of Hawley, will have to serve at least five days in jail, perform at least 50 hours of community service, and pay a $500 fine that he can reduce by $400 with more community service. He would face more jail time and higher fines if he fails to comply with the terms of his probation.
Ross pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty for an incident that captured the attention of online viewers and animal rights activists worldwide.
In late May, Ross and two juveniles videotaped themselves dousing the large snapping turtle with gasoline, lighting it on fire twice, and dancing around it. They were discovered after someone sent police an e-mail with a link to the video.
The two juveniles involved received community service earlier.
"This was something that just got way out of control, said Dennis Fisher, Ross's attorney. Fisher asked Clay County District Judge Michael Kirk to impose fines and community service but not jail time, saying Ross and his family had suffered enough.
Ross told Kirk he felt bad for his actions and knew they were wrong. He said his family has been affected, including a brother serving in Iraq.
"He's upset and probably thinks a lot less of me right now,'' Ross said.
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