Alleged tortoise torturer, killer arrested

A woman who was charged in a 2014 incident where a small gopher tortoise was allegedly set on fire then stomped to death was arrested in Nassau County on Friday.

Jennifer Emoke Greene, 19, of 55151 Mount Olive Road, Callahan, was returned to Clay County.

Gopher tortoises are listed as threatened by the state of Florida. It is against state law to kill, harass or destroy gopher tortoises, their eggs or burrows.

Greene was initially arrested after a video surfaced on Facebook in July 2014 that allegedly shows Greene and a juvenile girl torturing the animal by dousing it with a flammable liquid, then setting it on fire. One of the girls is heard to say "burn, baby" as the animal tries to escape.

An animal rights group alerted Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials to the video, which caused outrage on social media. Law enforcement officials were quickly inundated with leads in the Orange Park case.

Greene pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of cruelty to animals and a misdemeanor charge of taking, harming, harassing or killing the gopher tortoise.

At a hearing last March she was found incompetent to stand trial. Greene was given a conditional release in order to receive treatment and appeared again in court last September so the state could determine if she was, by that time, competent to stand trial.

Again she was found incompetent and she was released under the conditions that she abide by the March court order and that before March 4, 2016 her treating physician or therapist from Clay County Behavioral Health Center, Inc. submit a written report to the court concerning Greene’s compliance with the conditions and her progress in treatment.

A warrant for her arrest was issued on Jan. 22 and she was taken into custody that night.

Jackelyn Barnard, Director of Communications for the State Attorney’s Office, Fourth Judicial Circuit wrote in an email Monday: "The competency review process is ongoing. The Defendant's next court date is February 8th. The Defendant was taken into custody due to a bond issue."

Greene could face five years in prison if found guilty on both a third degree felony cruelty charge and a first-degree misdemeanor charge.

The charges against the minor child cannot be discussed by the State Attorney’s Office.

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