Tahlequah Daily Press

March 7, 2013

Teen who killed pit bull won’t be charged

The DA's office says there's not nearly enough evidence" to support animal cruelty charges.

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — District 27 prosecutors will not be filing charges against a Cookson teenager who shot and killed a pit bulldog, then posted a picture of the dead animal on Facebook.

Eighteen-year-old Caisen Green has been at the center of a heated debate in recent weeks – a debate that’s stretched across the globe and even resulted in several death threats being made against him.

First Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp made the formal decision Thursday not to charge Green with animal cruelty.

In a statement, Thorp said he worked to disprove Green’s claim of self-defense, but has not been able to do so.

“The only direct evidence that Caisen Green killed the pit bull in question was a Facebook photo, and statements made on Facebook and to law enforcement,” Thorp said. “My analysis of those statements and how they relate to the photo leave me not nearly enough evidence to support issuing an arrest warrant and further prosecution for animal cruelty, as it relates to Caisen Green.”

Thorp said there is no “probable cause” to order Green’s arrest, based on a report filed by Undersheriff Jason Chennault and based on the Facebook postings Green made after he shot the pit bulldog with an arrow.

Green told Chennault he was practicing archery in his yard when he encountered two stray dogs, one of them being the pit bull. Thorp said he learned, during his own investigation, that it is “extremely common” for animals to be dumped and discarded in the area where Green lives.

Green told Chennault the pit bull “snarled” at him and charged at him, so he shot the animal behind the left shoulder.

Thorp said he spoke with an expert and learned a shot behind the animal’s left shoulder could reasonably have created an exit wound on the right-side abdominal region of the dog. In the photo Green posted on Facebook, the arrow appeared to protrude from that area of the body.

Green told Chennault, several days after posting the photo, that he had been acting in self-defense. Thorp said this was not the first time Green provided a reason for shooting the dog.

Green, shortly after posting the photo, had a back-and-forth conversation on Facebook with members of the Humane Society of Cherokee County. In that conversation, Green explained that he killed the pit bulldog to protect his younger siblings. A copy of that conversation was included in the report Chennault submitted to Thorp.

“According to the statement given by Green, he felt he acted in self-defense, and possibly in defense of others, as he mentioned a younger brother and sister,” said Thorp.

Thorp said Oklahoma law provides the right to act in self-defense against an animal if the person believes, through observation of the animal’s actions, that it could inflict harm, destruction, or injury.

Green’s father reportedly burned the dead dog’s carcass because it appeared “diseased.” Thorp said that information was investigated, and Chennault corroborated the statement, including the statement that Green’s father then buried the animal’s remains on his property.