Teen Charged in Cow Shooting
Posted on Dec 2, 2010 - 3:43 PM
Chelsea, Vermont - December 1, 2010
Sixteen-year-old Cody Schellong arrived at Orange County District Court to a group of protestors out front. They represent the Vermont Volunteer Services For Animals Humane Society and were there to send Schellong a message.
"I'm here for the cows that were shot and for every animal that is being abused and neglected and also for the farmers," demonstrator Marie Thorpe said.
Inside the court, what was supposed to be a status hearing turned into a change of plea. Schellong pleaded guilty to three counts of animal cruelty. According to court documents, the South Royalton teen admitted he shot three cows back in September-- two at a farm in Randolph and another at a farm in Tunbridge-- with a 9 mm handgun. All three animals eventually died.
One of the cows shot was a valued Guernsey cow recently featured in a WCAX News story on rare breeds. The cow's owner, Seth Johnson, says "Nancy" came from a very prestigious line.
"We bought her more or less as an investment to improve the breeding value of our herd-- the breeding level of our herd. We don't have very many Guernseys and we wanted to get a really good one," Johnson said.
Schellong's guilty pleas Wednesday are conditional on the case being transferred to juvenile court, where any punishment handed out would be confidential. Prosecutors declined to comment after the hearing why the agreement was reached, a deal those on hand for the hearing were not happy with.
"If this young man is old enough to be running around with a 9 mm handgun and killing live creatures, then he is old enough to face the judge as an adult," protester Katherine Collins said.
The Guernsey's owner agrees and is concerned about the message a more lenient punishment might send.
"As farmers we need to have some sort of security knowing that our livestock are safe out in our pastures and also, just as people here in Tunbridge, it's a little disconcerting that someone that lives in our community would do something like this," Johnson said.
A senseless act that Schellong told police was a spur-of-the-moment decision, one that has consequences no matter which court they come from.
A hearing will be set in juvenile court within 30 days. That court does have the right to send the case back to district court.
Adam Sullivan - WCAX News