SALT LAKE CITY — A federal choose on Thursday ordered the discharge pending trial of a Woods Cross man present process psychological well being treatment after being charged with torturing and killing guinea pigs and posting movies of the acts on-line.
U.S. Magistrate Daphne Oberg granted a protection lawyer’s request that Samuel J. Webster, 18, might proceed to obtain obligatory psychiatric care as a situation of launch. Federal prosecutors had urged that Webster stay jailed as a result of his alleged crimes had been “gruesome acts of violence that demonstrate cold-hearted cruelty.” He additionally allegedly threatened individuals who complained about his “animal crush videos” posted on YouTube, prosecutors mentioned.
In a federal grand jury indictment this week, Webster was charged with 18 felony counts of distributing animal crush movies on YouTube, one felony rely of making an animal crush video and 4 felony counts of animal crushing. The U.S. Attorney’s Office mentioned federal legislation defines “animal crush videos” as depictions of intentional, critical bodily violence towards animals.
The federal charging paperwork mentioned Webster in October 2021 allegedly posted 23 movies of himself torturing guinea pigs that he purchased at Wasatch Front pet shops. The Davis County Attorney’s Office late final yr charged Webster with 5 aggravated animal cruelty counts in state courtroom associated to the identical incidents.
In a movement this week looking for Webster’s detention, federal prosecutors argued that Webster stays a threat to animals and probably people. They mentioned Webster is well-versed in computer systems with expertise that may very well be used to cowl his digital tracks. Some of the folks he allegedly threatened may very well be witnesses within the case, they mentioned.
In one chat message, Webster allegedly instructed somebody, “Apologize in a better way or I will gut u like a pig ALIVE.” A forensic evaluate of Webster’s cellphone, which was seized by police, discovered 9 cached pictures depicting human torture, the detention movement mentioned.
Prosecutors additionally quoted this on-line chat passage attributed to Webster: “Torture is like a drug to me, it’s very addicting. Hearing the scream of pain is so satisfying. We are disguised as lambs and yet we all have a tiger inside us. Predators kill their prey mostly by using torture, because it is easier to catch their prey.”
A Woods Cross Police Department possible trigger assertion alleged that Webster pulled out hair, plucked out eyes with a software, broke bones and inserted his fingers into orifices.
Titles of the movies included, “I tried to make a puppet out of a guinea pig,” “Torture is addicting,” “Fatality” and “Ripped eye out.”
But Scott Wilding, Webster’s lawyer, wrote in a response to the movement that Webster has no means with which to flee pending trial and that potential witnesses to the charged offenses “are located across the country.”
Wilding mentioned Webster as an alternative ought to obtain “intensive psychiatric treatment” that “reasonably ensures the safety of the community.” He mentioned his shopper suffers from emotional points and diminished psychological capability that threaten his potential to perceive the costs towards him.
Webster has dedicated no damaging acts since he went into treatment after Woods Cross police arrested him in 2021, Wilding mentioned.
According to an analysis by a scientific social employee, Webster was recognized with “severe cannabis use disorder,” “cannabis-induced bipolar and related disorder” and “antisocial personality disorder,” plus an “unspecified neurodevelopmental disorder.”