A Florida man argued that he feared for his life before violently bashing a three-foot iguana to death. A judge didn’t buy it.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen ruled against PJ Nilaja Patterson’s “stand your ground” defense in the standoff, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Tuesday.
Patterson, 43, was charged with animal cruelty for the brutal beatdown in Lake Worth Beach in September. According to his lawyers, Patterson rescued the iguana from the middle of the road, after which the animal allegedly bit Patterson, requiring 22 stitches.
PJ Nilaja Patterson (Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office/)
But prosecutors painted Patterson as the aggressor, pointing to surveillance footage that showed the 32-minute attack, during which Patterson “savagely beat, tormented, tortured, and killed” the iguana.
Patterson “clearly tormented the iguana” and reacted in “a violent rage,” Animal Care and Control Sgt. Adam Moulton wrote in an arrest report obtained by the Sun Sentinel, claiming the man “chose to stalk the helpless iguana and deliver vicious strikes to the animal.”
The iguana suffered a lacerated liver, broken pelvis and internal bleeding, according to the necropsy.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allows residents to kill iguanas, but it must be done humanely, such as shooting them with a pellet gun, stabbing them in the brain or decapitating them in a way that they do not feel pain. Freezing, drowning and poisoning is illegal.
If convicted, Patterson faces up to five years in prison.
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