Crush Video Couple: Ashley Richards Expected to Testify Against Brent Justice (UPDATE)

Categories: Courts

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Ashley Richards may testify against Brent Justice.
One half of a couple charged with torturing and killing animals as part of a "crush video" business is expected to testify against her alleged partner.

Ashley Nicole Richards, 23, has pleaded guilty to three of five counts of animal cruelty and has agreed to testify against Brent Justice, the man who allegedly helped Richards record the mutilation of cats and dogs with a knife, hatchet and other sharp instruments, and selling the videos. No trial date has been set for Justice, 53, who was appointed a new public defender in March. Both Richards and Justice remain in Harris County Jail, in lieu of $50,000 bond each.

Justice's latest public defender, Allen Isbell, said he could not comment on his client's case because he hasn't yet had time to familiarize himself. But court records show that Justice is taking an active role in his own defense, having asked for and received additional time each week to visit the law library.

Read previous coverage:Open Season: Do Laws Against Animal Crushing Videos Violate Free Speech?

Richards and Justice gained notoriety when they became the first defendants charged under a 2010 federal statute criminalizing the production and sale of crush videos. U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake tossed those charges in April 2013, calling the statute over broad and unconstitutional.

Federal prosecutors immediately filed an appeal, and a ruling is pending.

Richards, who pleaded guilty in November 2013 to felony animal cruelty charges, is described as "a potential witness" against Justice in a February 2014 motion that warns jailers that Justice was writing to Richards under both his jail identification number, as well as others. (Richards will be sentenced sometime after a May 22 hearing on her pre-sentence investigation report).

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