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Game commission charges teens in deer kicking

The Pennsylvania Game Commission filed charges Friday against two Brookville teenagers who recorded social-media videos of themselves holding down and repeatedly kicking an immobile white-tailed deer.

Charged are Alexander Brock Smith, 18, and a 17-year-old male. Each faces two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty and two felony counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated animal cruelty, as well as several other misdemeanor and summary counts.

The Nov. 30 incident for which Smith and his accomplice were charged has been seen by thousands of people worldwide who viewed the videos. The game commission became aware of the incident soon after the videos were posted, when one viewer shared a video to the agency’s Facebook page. The agency immediately launched an investigation.

Each defendant was interviewed as part of the investigation and confirmed they were hunting together Nov. 30 in an enclosed tree stand on property Smith’s family owns in Beaver Township, Jefferson County. The juvenile shot and wounded a buck, then missed with a follow-up shot. The deer was immobilized, video was taken, then shared through the messaging app Snapchat. One recipient of the video saved it to his phone and contacted the game commission, and his phone, as well as the defendants’ phones, were seized for forensic analysis.

Smith was arraigned on charges Friday before Magisterial District Judge Gregory M. Bazylak and was released on $50,000 unsecured bail. Paperwork containing the juvenile’s charges also was filed Friday, which begins the process of the charges being sent to juvenile court.

Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said posts about the incident on the agency’s Facebook page have made clear the contempt hunters hold for the actions depicted on the video.

“Hunters care deeply about wildlife,” Burhans said. “It’s through their decades of dedication to the outdoors that we enjoy healthy and sustainable populations of wild birds and mammals, and that those wildlife species that encounter trouble are identified and afforded additional protection.

If convicted, the teens face fines and multiple years of license revocation.