EDITOR’S NOTE: This story contains graphic content and is not suitable for all audiences.
A Houston man convicted of “animal crush videos,” a genre of pornography entailing the gruesome torture of animals, has been sentenced to an additional six years in prison.
According to the Department of Justice, Brent Justice, 55, of Houston, was found guilty back in May on three counts of producing and one count of distributing animal crush videos. On Thursday, he was sentenced to four years and nine months behind bars, followed by three years of supervised release.
Justice was also found guilty of similar conduct in February 2016 and sentenced to 50 years. Richards also pleaded guilty to three charges in state court stemming from the same conduct and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
In the videos, Justice was involved in the torture and killing of puppies, chickens and kittens. PETA defines the videos as a cruel and illegal genre of pornography in which women are videotaped or photographed mutilating small animals for the sexual gratification of viewers. In crush fetish materials, women are depicted, usually barefoot or in high heels, stepping on (or crushing), torturing and killing different species of animals, ranging from crawfish, crabs and insects to rodents, rabbits, kittens, puppies, cats, dogs and other mammals.
Authorities were first alerted to the films by PETA.
Under federal law, it is illegal to depict – via photograph, motion-picture film, video, digital recording or electronic image – actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury, and is obscene.
Co-defendant Ashley Nicole Richards, 25, of Waco, but living in Houston at the time, was also convicted after pleading guilty in September 2015. The defendants were believed to be the first people indicted on these offenses since the statute was amended in 2010.
The Justice Department stated the duo made and disseminated multiple videos of puppies, chickens and kittens being tortured and killed between February 2010 and August 2012.
In a 13-minute video, Richards is seen torturing and killing a blue Pit Bull-mix puppy in a kitchen. The defenseless dog’s mouth is closed with duct tape and he struggles as Richards chops the dog numerous times with a meat cleaver.
In the video, Richards cuts off one of the puppy’s paws, then hacks at his head and neck. Richards is later seen severing the dog’s head and urinating on its body. In another video, described in court, Richards steps on a cat’s eye with heel of her shoe.
Previous court records also indicated that during the videos, Richards is often scantily clad and wearing a Mardi Gras-type mask. As she tortured the animals, she engaged in sexually charged conversation meant to arouse the viewer.
The Government argued Justice was the cameraman in all of the videos he was charged with producing. Richards said during the trial, she learned about “crush” through Justice and he was the mastermind behind the videos.
Richards was originally arrested on state charges on Aug. 15, 2012. A federal grand jury returned an indictment Nov. 28, 2012, and she was transferred to federal custody. However, the crush video charges were later dismissed on what the court cited as constitutionality issues. The government appealed that decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans which subsequently overturned the decision of the District Court. The defense then filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the 5th Circuit’s ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court denied that petition and remanded the case back to the District Court for prosecution.
The Houston Police Department originally investigated the matter and worked in conjunction with the Houston Office of the FBI