An Idaho biology teacher accused of feeding a live puppy to a snapping turtle in front of students will go on trial beginning Thursday.
Preston Junior High School teacher Robert Crosland was charged with one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty in June after the allegations surfaced in March, the Idaho State Journal reported .
He has pleaded not guilty and will face a two-day jury trial at the Franklin County Courthouse in Preston, a rural community of about 5,300 people where the 2004 movie “Napoleon Dynamite” was set. If convicted, Crosland faces up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Idaho Deputy Attorney General David Morse had requested the trial be moved outside Franklin County or at least include potential jurors who live outside the county.
The allegation received intense media coverage, and petitions both supporting and criticizing Crosland were widely circulated online. The latter calls for the Preston School District to fire the teacher.
Crosland’s attorney, Shane Reichert, told the Journal in September that Crosland was back in the classroom this school year despite the charge.
The state Department of Agriculture later euthanized the snapping turtle, which Crosland owned but kept at the high school. It was an invasive species in Idaho, and he didn’t have a permit for it.