Suspect accused of beating turtle to death with hammer claims self-defense

Terry Washington.

Terry Washington.  (Austin Police)

A man in Texas caught on video apparently beating a snapping turtle to death with a hammer claimed he was acting in self-defense, as prosecutors charged him Tuesday with animal cruelty.

The suspect, 55-year-old Terry Washington, was fishing near Lady Bird Lake in Austin on June 21 when he caught the animal, witnesses reportedly told police.

The turtle was more than 2 feet long and weighed about 40 pounds, Fox 7 reported.

Investigators said a friend of the suspect used the hammer to pull the animal to shore before Washington grabbed the tool. The video, which appeared on Facebook, showed a man bending over and repeatedly hitting the turtle.

Police said Washington claimed the animal had lunged at him and tried to bite him more than once.

The turtle was still hooked to the fishing line, Fox 7 added. Police said the attack crushed the animal's head and cracked its shell. They also said the man dragged the turtle under a bridge before walking off.

Washington's friend claimed turtles had been scaring away the fish there, police said.

A judge set Washington's bond at $5,000.

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