Video in animal cruelty case questioned - East Valley Tribune: News

Video in animal cruelty case questioned

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Posted: Friday, January 8, 2010 3:51 pm | Updated: 3:41 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The defense attorney for a Mesa man shown in a video punting a kitten alleges that the DVD video, which was widely shown by Valley media, was a heavily edited copy of an original 8-millimeter film that was thrown away.

A video showing a Mesa man punting a kitten has come into question in his animal cruelty case.

A defense attorney alleges in a written motion that the DVD video, which was widely shown in September by Valley media, was a heavily edited copy of an original 8-millimeter film that was thrown away.

Defense attorney Darrell J. Hadder argues in his motion that the DVD can't be admitted as evidence in Jeremy Tuffly's trial because it doesn't comply with rules of evidence.

Hadder also alleges that a Maricopa County sheriff's detective purposely omitted in his report that the original was destroyed.

"... the State is part of the conspiracy to mislead the justice system," Hadder wrote.

Hadder is asking a Superior Court judge to suppress the video and dismiss the case.

Tuffly is charged with two counts of animal cruelty, a low-level felony.

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The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office announced his arrest Sept. 1 and provided the video to the media. According to the sheriff's office, the incident was shot in February 2004.

The video shows Tuffly in a daylight shot repeatedly tossing the gray-and-white kitten into a plastic storage box containing a python. The python seems uninterested in the kitten.

The video then switches to a nighttime shot and shows Tuffly pick up the kitten from the grass and boot it into the street. A man in the shot can be seen flinching as the kitten sails into the street.

According to the state's response to Hadder's motion, Tuffly's father-in-law, Timothy Hedgpeth, discovered the original 8-millimeter tape when he was helping his daughter, Christina Tuffly, move.

Hedgpeth was sickened by the video and distraught over hearing his daughter crying on the video, deputy county attorney Anthony Church wrote.

Christina Tuffly told a sheriff's investigator that she shot the video after her husband threatened to kill her and kicked her in the ribs for refusing at first. The couple's divorce became final in October.

Hedgpeth took the original to Jerry's Video Transfer in Mesa and had it reproduced in its entirety except for the sound. He turned it over to the sheriff's office, according to Church.

Church contends that the video is admissible because he can prove that the copy is a true duplicate of the original through the testimony of Hedgpeth, the man who copied the video and statements Tuffly made to the media that confirm he is the one on the video.

Tuffly's next court date is Jan. 15, but no date has been set for a hearing on the video.

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