Couple accused of making animal torture videos face maximum 2-year sentence

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by Brad Woodard/ KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 5:59 PM

HOUSTON—The couple accused of making animal torture videos for money currently face a maximum punishment of two years in state jail.

Ashley Nichole Richards, 21, and Brent Wayne Justice, 51, are accused of producing and selling what’s known as "crush videos." The videos are allegedly made at the request of customers who pay to watch animals tortured and, in some cases, crushed for the viewer’s sexual gratification.

"Both of the defendants have been charged with felony animal cruelty, specifically torturing a dog and a cat," said prosecutor Belinda Smith, head of the Harris County D.A.’s Animal Cruelty Section.

The details of the case are so graphic a judge stopped the allegations from being read at one point in the probable cause hearing. Richards is accused of using knives and a meat clever to torture a puppy in one video. Prosecutors say there’s another video involving a cat.

"She wore stiletto heels, and she would stomp on the cat, and ultimately she stomped directly on its eye," said Smith.

"Animals are literally being crushed and tortured for the sake of profit for these videos to be produced and sold to the sordid community that supports such activity," said Patricia Mercer of the Houston SPCA.

"Unfortunately, this is just a state jail felony," said Smith, "so the maximum punishment is two years in state jail."

There is, however, a federal ban on crush videos, and if the U.S. Attorney pursues the case, the suspects could face as many as seven years behind bars.

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