BELFAST, Maine — Jurors in a Waldo County Superior Court aggravated animal cruelty trial watched a home movie Monday morning that depicted a tethered bobcat getting killed by a pack of four howling, barking blue tick coonhounds as several men appeared to egg them on.
The video was entered as part of the evidence against Randall Carl of Knox, who is on trial for the incident that happened in February 2009 off a Unity road.
Waldo County Assistant District Attorney Eric Walker said in his opening arguments that Carl, who at least at the time worked as a guard at Maine State Prison in Warren, acted in a cruel manner when he used the bobcat as an object to train the dogs. Carl allegedly tethered the bobcat, which had been trapped and caged by others, to a pole with a rope wrapped around its neck. He let the bobcat out of the cage, Walker said, and the unleashed hunting dogs attacked it.
“This case is not about tracking, hunting or training dogs,” Walker said. “It’s about crossing the line into animal cruelty.”
But defense attorney Walter McKee of Augusta disagreed.
“This was an unfortunate incident. It was not planned,” McKee told the jurors and Waldo County Superior Court Justice Robert Murray. “In Maine, people are allowed to kill animals. When you see the video of the bobcat getting killed, that’s just the way it goes sometimes. … Are we applying the law of man to the law of the wild? There was no crossing over the line. Randy is simply not guilty.”
The first witnesses called to the stand Monday included Vernon Travis Smith of Burnham, who filmed the incident with knowledge of the other men involved, and Warden Mark Merrifield, who helped investigate the matter beginning in 2011.
Carl also has been charged with a closed season hunting or trapping violation.
Testimony was to continue Monday afternoon.