AUSTIN (KXAN) — Terry Wayne Washington is prohibited from being within 500 meters of Lady Bird Lake after a viral video last summer showed him killing a turtle with a hammer. The man had claimed he killed the turtle in self-defense.
Washington pleaded guilty to animal cruelty this week, according to the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. Due to his previous criminal history, the potential punishment was increased to 2 to 20 years. However, in a plea deal, his 10-year sentence was suspended.
Washington will be on probation for four years. During the probation, he is also banned from owning a pet, must pay a $200 fine, and finish 200 hours of community service.
If treatment and counseling are recommended, that would be an additional probation requirement.
A violation of his probation could lead to a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
On June 21, two joggers saw Washington near the Bouldin Creek spillway where it opens into the lake on West Riverside Drive. He was struggling to reel in a large common snapping turtle.
Another man standing next to Washington with a hammer used the claw end of the hammer to hook onto the turtle’s shell and pull it to shore. Witnesses said the other man was just trying to help the turtle and at no point did he try to hurt or hit the turtle.
Washington then grabbed the hammer and began beating the turtle with the blunt end 10 times until it died. Washington then dragged the dead turtle under the bridge to get out of view of onlookers yelling at him to stop.
According to a police affidavit, Washington said he was scared because the turtle was “lunging” at him and tried to bite him multiple times. Police said witness accounts did not match Washington’s claim that the turtle tried to attack him.