A quivering guinea pig was made to decide its own fate when it was placed on a table where if it moved to one side it would be spared or to the other side where it would be killed, witnesses testified Monday, as two high school students in Michigan were ordered to stand trial on charges of torturing and killing the small animal.
Tanner Coolsaet, 18, and Michael Roth, 17, both of Grosse Ile, sat quietly in Woodhaven District Court as fellow Grosse Ile High School lacrosse players detailed the fatal slashing and beating of the guinea pig purchased at a local pet store and then killed last April on a Grosse Ile beach.
Witnesses testified that about 10 young men were at the beach when the animal was placed on a table. The hapless guinea pig — at times, quaking with fear — moved to the kill side.
“Mike (Roth) struck it on the back of the head” with a small bat, a witness, age 15, said. “Then it was dazed and struggling. You could see its foot kind of twitch. It was struggling to stand.”
Roth and Coolsaet each face two counts of felony animal cruelty — killing or torturing animals and conspiracy to kill or torture animals, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
A previous statement from the prosecutor’s office had said Coolsaet cut the guinea pig with a knife. But Monday’s testimony indicated a third person did the cutting and Coolsaet threw the animal in the river.
A third, 16-year-old defendant charged as a juvenile with killing or torturing an animal and animal cruelty, is set for a 3 p.m. Sept. 7 pre-trial conference before Referee Viola King at the Lincoln Hall of Justice in Detroit.
District Judge James Kersten ordered Monday that media not identify the two male witnesses under 18, on a request from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.
The 15-year-old testified that after Roth hit the guinea pig with a small bat, another person came with a fixed-blade knife “and just put it out of its misery,” stabbing it once or twice. The blood spread on the table.
“Some people dipped their fingers in the blood and wore it as a sort of face paint, like you would do in sports,” the witness said.
He said Roth picked it up and tried to get blood in his mouth. When that didn’t work, he “dipped his tongue into blood on the table,” the witness said.
Then, he said Coolsaet threw the guinea pig into the river. Both minor witnesses said they didn’t see Coolsaet hurt the Guinea pig.
But the group of 10 was divided on what to do with it, and witnesses said Coolsaet had been on the side voting for it to be killed.
A 17-year-old witness said that before the killing, lacrosse players had talked about killing a small animal “for good luck.”