Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18822
Classification: Beating
Animal: other wildlife
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Friday, Nov 4, 2011

County: Newport

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Nicholas A. Coyle

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

A college student in Newport is accused of killing a rabbit and using the dead animal like a hockey puck.

Investigators said Friday they have evidence and a good idea who did it.

"Flat out cruelty. That's why the law states it's malicious killing of an animal. It is a felony," said E.J. Finocchio, of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

And an investigation is now under way by the RISPCA and the Newport police after two Salve Regina University students came forward with some disturbing allegations about another student.

"We have some eyewitnesses who saw a male individual beat a rabbit to death with a hockey stick outside his off-campus apartment," Finocchio said.

The RISPCA said the alleged abuse happened on Nov. 4. The rabbit was a wild cottontail that would wander around Middleton Avenue.

"What type of person goes out there with a hockey stick, an innocent rabbit, hits him over the head? He's still alive and starts shuffling him around like a hockey puck? That's not normal behavior to me. There's something wrong with this equation," Finocchio said.

An investigator found the dead animal wrapped in a garbage bag and placed in a barrel with other trash, including beer cans.

"Any form of abuse or torture against an animal is completely unacceptable and is contrary to the values of Salve Regina," said university spokesman Matt Boxler.

School officials said they're working with police. Finocchio said they know who the suspect is, but he would like the student to turn himself in.

"I think it would be in the best interest of this individual to come forward, and let's see what we can work out," Finocchio said.

Investigators said the suspect is 18 or 19 years old.

Case Updates

Nicholas Coyle, a Salve Regina University Lacrosse player, has been arrested in Newport on charges of animal cruelty after he allegedly killed a rabbit with a hockey stick and used the body as a puck.

WPRO's John DePetro said Newport Police arrested Coyle, 18, at 12:40 p.m. at his Newport apartment.

He was arraigned at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon at Newport County Court house on a felony charge of animal cruelty.

"I'm hoping that the judicial system will send a message that will deter others from getting involved in such heinous acts of animal cruelty and that these people will take heed to this," Dr. Finocchio told WPRO news. Finocchio said he hope the court will take this crime serious and not just give Coyle a "slap on the wrist."

Salve Regina University released a statement commending students who came foward with information about the case and said that the school is conducting it's own investigation and will take "appropriate disciplinary action." The disciplinary action will not be disclosed to the public due to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Punishments range from probation to dismissal.

"Any form of abuse or torture of an animal is completely unacceptable and is contrary to the values of Salve Regina University," the statement said.

Finocchio said the student should face harsh punishment both in court and by the school. "Jail time, that wouldn't bother me in the least, getting thrown out of school that wouldn't bother me in the least, it's time that we all fess up and people become responsible for their actions," said Finocchio, "He is 18 years of age, he is a college student. There is no question in my mind that he should have known better."

Coyle was released on $10,000 personal recognizance. The court granted him permission to go home to Merrick New York for Thanksgiving.

Animal Cruelty is a felony charge in Rhode Island and Coyle could face up to two years in jail and as much as a $50,000 fine.
Source: - Nov 16, 2011
Update posted on Nov 16, 2011 - 8:53PM 


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