Teen Girl Who Stomped Baby Gopher Tortoise To Death Again Ruled Incompetent To Stand Trial

September 9, 2015

Do you remember the story about the two teen girls who tortured and killed a hatchling gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) in Florida? Well, the case against one of them continues as she has again been ruled incompetent to stand trial. Jennifer Emoke Greene, who was 18 at the time of her arrest, and her then 15-year-old friend Danielle Dionne, posted a video on Facebook showing them torturing a baby gopher tortoise by setting it on fire, throwing it, and ultimately stomping on it until it died. They were both arrested July 25, 2014 and charged with felon cruelty to animals. Greene was found incompetent to proceed with trial and she was set for a six month review at her March 10, 2015 hearing. 

Florida fish and wildlife facebook showing tortoise lit on fire

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission

Screengrab of video showing teens lighting hatchling gopher tortoise on fire.

The Facebook video caused widespread outrage in the reptile community and the general community due to the graphic nature of the video and what these teenagers said in the short clip.

Here is what was said during on the video, which has since been removed from the social media site:

"Let's light his head on fire." 
"Burn baby, burn baby." 

"Now you're scared of us, huh?" 

"Ugh, I just want him to die." 

Gopher tortoises are protected throughout their range either by state or federal law. Gopher tortoises are listed as threatened species in the state of Florida. Both the tortoise and their burrow are protected. They reach maturity at 10-15 years of age and are considered a long lived tortoise. Some reports have them living well into their 70s, with one specimen living continuously at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax, Nova Scotia aged at 73 years. They average 10 to 12 inches in carapace length and lay eggs just once a year with an average of five to 8 eggs in a nest. 

John B. Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a kingsnake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 


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