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A Florida man accused of brutally pummeling an iguana to death said he was just defending himself.
PJ Nilaja Patterson, 43, tried to use the Sunshine State’s State Your Ground Law to get out of animal cruelty charges that could put him behind bars for up to five years.
But a circuit court judge denied Patterson stand-your-ground immunity, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel first reported.
Stand Your Ground allows people to use force if threatened and there’s no requirement they have to retreat. Patterson’s attorneys claimed their client feared for his life on Sept. 2 when he was faced with the 3-foot iguana.
“The vicious animal got the best of Patterson and savagely bit his right arm,” Patterson’s lawyers said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. He received 22 staples for his injury, the attorneys reportedly said.
The animal had leaned forward with its mouth wide open and showing its sharp teeth “in a threatening manner,” his attorneys said.
Killing an iguana is technically legal in Florida, if it’s done humanely, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
“You can hit iguanas over the head with a shovel, stab them in the brain, and even decapitate them as long as they die instantly and don’t suffer,” the publication stated.
But prosecutors argued that the animal did suffer.
Prosecutors said Patterson kicked the “defenseless animal at least 17 times causing its death.”
Patterson “clearly tormented” the animal, which was found to have a lacerated liver, broken pelvis and internal bleeding, the publication said.
“Patterson believed that the iguana could have injected poison in him and thus he rushed to incapacitate the iguana the best way he could in order to preserve its antidote,” public defender Frank Vasconcelos wrote in a motion.
Iguanas are not poisonous.
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