(CBS) — An Idaho jury found the teacher accused of feeding a sick puppy to a snapping turtle in front of his students not guilty of animal cruelty, CBS Idaho Falls affiliate KIDK reports. In a recording of an interview with an investigator that was presented at the trial, Robert Crosland said, “I honestly thought I was doing the right thing by putting it out of its misery.”
The six-person jury found Crosland not guilty after the two-day trial at Franklin County Courthouse in Preston, a rural community of about 5,300 people. According to the Idaho Statesman, the courtroom was packed with friends, family, students and teachers who came to support Crosland.
Prosecutors argued the puppy may not have been sick and may have been able to survive. On Friday morning, the students who witnessed the puppy being fed to the turtle testified.
One student testified that when the puppy was put in the water with the turtle, it paddled a few times before the turtle grabbed it and pulled it under the water.
Defense attorneys asked the case be dismissed, saying the puppy didn’t suffer. The judge ruled that that question was best left the jury.
Crosland’s son, Mario, testified he gave his father the puppy. Mario Crosland said the puppy had been given to him by a farmer who said it was sick and dying.
Mario Crosland tearfully described his father as “a guy who will do anything he can to save an animal. His whole life has been for animals, and seeing people try to destroy him when he’s has devoted his life to them. He has done all he can to help animals.”
The turtle was eventually euthanized. State officials said it was a non-native species that requires a permit.