Man accused of killing pet tortoise settles for $1,400

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. -- A man accused of killing a family's pet tortoise has settled through the court system. 

Brandt Lawson was charged with criminal mischief after an August 2017 incident where a family's pet tortoise, named Merlin, escaped a fenced-in yard and made it to his house. Lawson shot it on his property. Lawson is a local sheep farmer.

According to online court records, Lawson paid $1,400 in restitution in the case, as well as $334 in court fees.

The tortoise's owner, Tasha Chapel, said Lawson admitted to shooting Merlin. 

"To know that someone willingly and knowingly shot and murdered a honest-to-God dinosaur that is the most beautiful creature I've ever seen is devastating," Chapel said in September.

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A Hamilton County law firm, Coots Henke & Wheeler, P.C., issued the following statement about the incident in September:

"The Zionsville man who has lived in the area for decades, apologized to the pet’s owner immediately after he realized his own terrible error in judgment.  He expressed his sincere sorrow to the family and continues to indicate a desire to make amends.  The overwhelming negative response on social media with distorted facts and speculation, has put a barrier between the man and the pet’s owner with attempts to make amends nearly impossible.  The family is understandably angry and grieving for the loss of their beloved pet.  The man is devastated that he mistook the exotic pet for a potentially harmful animal.  He is hopeful that he will be able to meet with the pet’s owner to more fully express his sincere apologies." 

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