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Fifth suspect confesses in turtle torture incident

A fifth suspect confessed Friday to taking part in the videotaped June 6 torture and killing of a snapping turtle, the SPCA of Niagara announced.

Nicholas Paolucci, 18, of Akron, was caught on camera repeatedly striking the turtle with a baseball bat. After hitting the turtle several times, Paolucci handed the baseball bat off to Mitchell MacPeek, 19, of Royalton, who the SPCA said can be seen striking the turtle in the video that was released to the public last week.

Paolucci can be seen in another video that has not been publicly released, but the SPCA used eyewitness accounts to identify Paolucci. He confessed in an interview with an SPCA animal cruelty officer, SPCA Executive Director Amy L. Lewis said.

The turtle was captured on Cedar Road in Newstead and brought to a party at a home on Royalton Center Road in Wolcottsville, a hamlet in the Town of Royalton. Besides being struck with the bat, it also was stabbed with a pitchfork. After the beating, the turtle was picked up and thrown into a fire.

Lewis said officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the SPCA Serving Erie County analyzed the video and concluded the turtle was still alive when it was thrown into the fire.

MacPeek and Nicholas Paolucci, along with the previously charged Mark Paolucci, 17, and Jacob McKenna, 18, were charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty and DEC violations for taking a turtle out of season with improper implements. Ryan Rosenberg, 18, of Akron, faces only the DEC violations.

The cases will be heard in Royalton Town Court on a date to be determined, Lewis said.