Man who beheaded pet pythons pleads guilty to cruelty charges

March 27, 1997|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Martin Olson might have loved his pet pythons, but when Melissa began to wrap its 14-foot trunk around his right leg one night in 1995, he did not treat it lovingly.

The 30-year-old Pasadena resident grabbed a fishing knife from his bedroom dresser and cut off the snake's head.

Then, fearing that his 6-foot albino python Rex might attack as well, Olson took the precaution of beheading it, too.

Yesterday, looking repentant, Olson, of the first block of Lake Shore Drive, pleaded guilty in Anne Arundel Circuit Court to two counts of cruelty to animals.

"We get a lot of cruelty to animal cases, but I've never seen anything like this," Assistant State's Attorney Joseph H. LaMore said.

The snake slaughter turned into a criminal matter after Olson's roommate found the walls and floors of Olson's bedroom splattered with reptile blood and the headless bodies of a Burmese and an albino python on the floor. He called the police.

LaMore said Olson was charged because police could find no bite marks on his leg, although Olson had said the snake bit him, and no evidence that either snake had attacked him.

Olson was intoxicated and in a rage when he went into his bedroom, having just had a fight with his girlfriend, LaMore said.

Olson told the judge that he killed his snakes after becoming frightened by the attack of the larger python, which had quarter-inch fangs and a body as thick as a man's upper leg.

"When I saw this huge snake latch on to me, I just lost it," he said.

Olson admitted that he had been drinking at a party at the house on the night of the attack and that his actions might have been fueled by alcohol. He could not explain why he killed the smaller snake if only the larger one had attacked him.

Judge Eugene M. Lerner sentenced Olson to 30 days but suspended all but the six days he has served in the County Detention Center. He also ordered Olson to serve one year's supervised probation, pay $400 in fines and perform 70 hours of community service, preferably at an animal shelter.

Olson said the loss of Melissa and Rex had caused him more pain than any penalties the courts could impose. He "raised them from hatchlings," on a steady diet of rodents and rabbits, he said. He got them from a Pasadena pet store for about $700 each.

"I'm really sorry for the way it happened. I loved those snakes just the way other people might love their pet dog or pet cat. I miss them," he said. "They really make great pets."

Pub Date: 3/27/97

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