A Texas man has been charged with a felony after a passerby caught him on video beating a turtle to death with a hammer (video below).
Terry Washington, 55, was fishing at a lake near Austin on June 21 when two joggers noticed a crowd gathering on an overlooking bridge, KXAN reported.
They witnessed Washington attempting to reel in what appeared to be a large fish. But soon afterwards, a turtle came into view.
A second man with Washington hooked the turtle with the claw end of a hammer and brought it onto shore. The second man was trying to help the turtle and did not strike it at any point, witnesses said.
Washington then reportedly grabbed the hammer and began striking the animal, breaking through its shell and crushing its head.
Later, after striking it at least 10 times, he dragged the turtle under the bridge and left the area in his vehicle.
Washington confessed to killing the turtle on June 23, but alleged he had done so in self defense while trying to retrieve his hook. He told police the turtle repeatedly tried to bite him and that he feared for his safety.
The man who was with Washington agreed with his version of the story. He added that the pair had been fishing and that the turtles were being a nuisance because they were scaring the fish away.
This was contradicted by witness accounts. They said the turtle tried to escape and get back into the water.
Washington also made no attempt to take the turtle off the hook.
A police officer found the turtle's body, measuring 27 inches long by 15 inches wide and weighing around 40 pounds, under the bridge. A trail of blood ran approximately 75 feet from the spot where Washington began the attack to the place where he dumped the carcass.
Washington was charged with cruelty to non-livestock animals and his bail was set at $5,000, KTBC reported. He was also cited for hunting without a license and improper disposal of a carcass.
WARNING: Graphic video.