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Pearland children could face animal cruelty charges after maiming turtle

by Staff and Shern-Min Chow / KHOU 11 News

Posted on May 1, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 2 at 11:05 AM

PEARLAND, Texas—Police are investigating a case of animal cruelty involving five children in Pearland.

Witnesses say four boys and a girl injured the turtle so badly, it had to be put down.

A grand jury will decide if the kids, ages 11 to 13, should face animal cruelty charges.

Zachary Soto, 15, was walking through the apartments near Highway 288 and FM 518 late Sunday afternoon when he spotted a disturbing scene.

"I see one of the kids just throw a rock at the turtle and I see him stomping on it, pick it up and throwing it on the ground. I said ‘Yo! Chill. Stop,'" said the 8th grader

They stopped until he walked away. 

"It was like a game to them, like playing hacky sack with a turtle," Zachary said.

Darla Goolishian also lives at the complex. Pointing to the turtle’s blood in the parking lot, she shuddered saying, "It’s nasty." She was stunned by what they saw.

"The shell was cracked both on bottom and top, the membrane had been split apart so the upper and lower shell was not connected," said Goolishian.

The turtle had likely come from a neighboring pond.

Another neighbor had chased off the kids.

 "At that age they’re doing things like this. If they don’t get some counseling or help it makes me wonder what could happen later on," Goolishian said."I think it would be a parent’s nightmare."

A relative of one of the children blamed peer pressure.

Others are haunted by what they remember about the kids. Zach remembers the children were "laughing the whole time."

The neighbors took the turtle to the SPCA Wildlife center in Houston where it had to be put down. A necropsy is being performed and the remains are being kept in case they’re needed for the criminal investigation. Animal cruelty is a state jail felony.