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Animal cruelty case expands

Two youths accused of beating two llamas are charged with killing a bull.


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 2, 2001

EAST LAKE -- Two East Lake teenagers already accused of beating two pet llamas with a golf club last month were charged Thursday with shooting a bull to death with arrows.

One of the suspects, 17-year-old Brandon R. Eldred, also was charged with hacking a third llama in the face with a titanium meat cleaver.

"These kids need to be locked up and the key thrown away," Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett said. "In my 22 years as a prosecutor, in the realm of animal cruelty cases, I have never seen anything that could even come close to this."

Pinellas County sheriff's detectives charged Eldred with animal cruelty and armed trespass for allegedly slashing the face of Sir Lancelot, a 3-year-old llama that lives on Old Keystone Road in East Lake, on Jan. 30.

Investigators think that Eldred's co-defendant in the other llama attack, 18-year-old Robert B. Pettyjohn II, was present, but "there was only one person doing the slashing," sheriff's Sgt. Greg Tita said. Detectives recovered the cleaver from Pettyjohn's home on Ranch Road.

In Hillsborough County, deputies issued a warrant for Pettyjohn in the Jan. 17 attack on two bulls at a ranch in Odessa. They also charged an unnamed 17-year-old, identified by Pinellas officials as Eldred. Each is charged with criminal mischief, armed trespass and two counts of aggravated animal abuse.

The new charges came the same day the St. Petersburg Times obtained the results of a necropsy on Monopoly, a llama killed in the Feb. 11 attack in which Eldred and Pettyjohn were charged last month.

The necropsy, performed by the University of Florida Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, revealed that Monopoly died of shock after suffering many injuries, including being sodomized by a blunt object that injured its internal organs.

"Who would have thought the facts could get any more aggravated than they already were," Bartlett said.

"The citizens of Pinellas County have a right to be outraged by such conduct . . . because it is absolutely horrible," he said. "This is absolutely despicable."

Pettyjohn's attorney, Christie Pardo of Tampa, said she had not seen the necropsy report and was not aware of the additional charges from Hillsborough County.

"It is important to realize that they have not been convicted of anything and we are basically in the information-gathering stage at this point," Pardo said.

Eldred's attorney, Denis deVlaming, did not return a call from the Times.

In the meat cleaver case, owner Ken Avery said he found his injured llama, Sir Lancelot, with a 4-inch-long piece of flesh hanging from its face when he went to feed his pets the morning after the attack.

"(Sir Lancelot's) eye was blinking real bad and there was blood all over the place," said Avery, 36, a painting contractor who owns about 20 farm animals on his 2-acre lot. "He's doing okay now, but he's got a hole in his face that will never be cured. It was just horrendous what happened to him."

Avery said none of his other pets was injured. Sir Lancelot is "extremely affectionate" and likes to greet people, he said.

"I would have never thought that someone would take a meat cleaver to him," Avery said. "It is just a very sad, sick thing."

Tita said Pinellas County sheriff's Detectives Mike Weaver and Tom Hoddinott linked Eldred to Sir Lancelot's slashing after "somebody came forward and implicated" him.

In the bull killing, Hillsborough sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said the animal was worth about $3,500. It has been shot with one arrow in the stomach and one in the ribs.

"Apparently it lived for a while," she said. "It's sad."

The other bull was shot with one arrow and suffered minor injuries.

In the Feb. 11 llama attack, Monopoly did not show any outward signs of injury when its owners, the Appenzeller family, discovered the injured pets.

"She was just lying down in the center of the pasture and wouldn't get up," said Keith Appenzeller, 48, a civil engineer in Tampa. "We tried to get her up and we knew something was wrong because it was unlike her to behave like that."

The family found a younger llama, Willie Wonka, lying in a pool of blood with a gouged eye at the end of their driveway. The family took all four of their llamas to the University of Florida veterinary hospital. Monopoly died on the way. Willie Wonka survived its injuries but its damaged left eye was removed.

Pettyjohn, who lives on Ranch Road about a half-mile from the pen of the Appenzellers' llamas, was still in the Pinellas County jail on $71,000 bail, which includes the Hillsborough charges and others not related to the animal cruelty.

Tita said Pettyjohn had been moved to a cell with fewer inmates for his own safety.

Eldred, who had been released on bail, was re-arrested Thursday on the charges involving the attack on Sir Lancelot, Tita said.

- Staff writer Amy Herdy contributed to this report.

Recent coverage

Well-known lawyer defends teen in llama case (February 21, 2001)

Suspect in llama beatings to be charged as adult (February 20, 2001)

Injured llama returns to shaken home (February 18, 2001)

Suspect in llama attack faces new charge (February 15, 2001)

Llama attack shakes idyllic neighborhood (February 14, 2001)

Second person arrested in llama beatings (February 13, 2001)

2 llamas beaten; teenager charged (February 12, 2001)

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