“Justice delayed is justice denied.”
HOUSTON, Texas––Having allowed “crush video” maker Brent Wayne Justice to walk on April 17, 2013 by finding the federal Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake in a second go-around on May 23, 2016 swiftly found the defendant guilty on all charges.
“Lake heard the entire case against Brent Justice in a swift three-hour bench trial,” reported Gabrielle Banks of the Houston Chronicle, “convicting him on the spot of the four charges that remained before him.”
Those charges included three counts of making “crush videos,” showing scantily clothed co-defendant Ashley Nicole Richards torturing and killing animals including a chicken, a puppy, a kitten, and a variety of crustaceans and reptiles.
Justice was also convicted on one count of distributing “crush videos” to customers, who placed orders for the specific acts of mayhem they wished to see.
To be sentenced in August
“Justice will remain in custody,” wrote Banks, until he is sentenced on August 18, 2016. Justice could receive up to seven years in prison on each count, plus a fine of up to $250,000.
Justice was initially sentenced to serve 50 years in prison, but the sentence was in June 2018 reduced on appeal to 20 years.
“Richards’ federal trial was a long time coming,” observed Craig Malisow, who covered the whole debacle for the Houston Press.
Charges dropped, reinstated
The Lake ruling in 2013 obliged the federal prosecution to drop the cases against Justice and Richards. But the Lake verdict was overturned and the charges reinstated on June 13, 2014 by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Found the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, “Congress has a significant interest in preventing the secondary effects of animal crush videos, which promote and require violence and criminal activity.”
Richards and Justice then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court in March 2015 declined to review the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision.
Already in prison
The May 23, 2016 convictions of Justice, and whatever sentence Justice receives, are almost academic, except as a demonstration that the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 can be applied in similar cases.
Justice is already serving a 50-year sentence meted out by Harris County Court Judge Jay Burnett on February 15, 2016 for cruelty to non-livestock animals.
Co-defendant also convicted
“Richards testified against Justice in both trials [state and federal], and she also pleaded guilty in both courts,” recounted Malisow. “She was sentenced to 10 years on the state charges and 33 months on the federal charges, but was given credit for the 42 months she spent in jail waiting for trial.
“We’re glad this is finally over,” Malisow concluded. “One thing to remember, though: the couple’s customers are still out there.”