Crush video couple Ashley Nicole Richards, 23, and her partner Brent Justice, 53, could be heading for some serious prison time after police charged them with filming their alleged activities.
Animal abuse opponents are all too familiar with what a crush video is. For the rest of you, it depicts the torture, abuse, and killing of an animal that would typically be kept as a pet.
According to the Houston Press, Richards herself could be facing five “stacked” 10-year sentences as a result of her involvement (a total of 50 years in prison). To help take the sting off some of that, she has agreed to plead guilty to five counts of animal cruelty and testify against Justice.
The newspaper says that Justice allegedly “helped Richards record the mutilation of cats and dogs with a knife, hatchet, and other sharp instruments.”
Together, the couple began selling the videos to “collectors,” a sadly lucrative business online.
Allen Isbell, public defender for Justice, told the paper that he couldn’t comment on his client’s case “because he hasn’t had time to familiarize himself” with the issue, but court records indicate that Justice will be taking a significantly active role in his case.
The Press writes that Justice has “asked for and received” additional time each week to use the law library.
Justice and Richards first came onto the national scene when they were charged under a 2010 Federal statute that criminalized the production and sale of the crush video.
However, those charges were thrown out in 2013 by a judge who deemed them broad and unconstitutional. An appeal to that ruling is pending.
Richards’ sentence is expected to be issued after May 22 following a hearing on her pre-sentence investigation report.
Prosecutor Jessica Milligan wishes to go after Richards using the aforementioned “stacked” sentence scenario that would keep the suspect in prison until she turns 73 years old.
Richards’ public defender has not issued a response to this, but one would have to think that if she ends up testifying against Justice, it would likely end up in a lighter punishment.
The Press adds that “both Richards and Justice are charged with felony cruelty to non-livestock animals, which carries a punishment of 180 days to 2 years, and a fine up to $10,000. However, prosecutors also added a ‘deadly weapon’ enhancement to the charges, which carries a sentence of 2 to 10 years.”
Justice’s indictment says that he “cut a dog’s neck with a knife.”
Considering the comparatively light sentence a guy like Michael Vick got for his infamous dogfighting ring, do you think 50 years for a crush video is too harsh or actual justice?