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Florida men accused in shark dragging video plead not guilty

Florida men accused in shark dragging video plead not guilty

Three Manatee County men facing charges in connection with an infamous shark-dragging video have pleaded not guilty.

The men were not in court and their lawyers entered the pleas on their behalf, attorney Stephen Crawford said by phone shortly after the brief hearing. Another video surfaced that appeared to show Kompothecras shooting a hammerhead shark.

Michael Wenzel, 21, of Palmetto, and Robert Lee Benac, 28, of Bradenton, were charged with two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty, a third-degree felony, and one misdemeanor count of violation to rules related to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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The laywers submitted not guilty pleas Wednesday morning in court in Tampa, according to WFLA-Channel 8. Even he posted he had issues with how the shark was shown repeatedly smacking against the water as the men in the video laughed. At one point, one of the men points at the shark and says, "Look, it's already nearly dead".

The disturbing video prompted outrage on social media and demands for the arrests of the men in the video. Benac and Wenzel also face one count of using an illegal method to take a shark, a second-degree misdemeanor. They are all out of custody after posting bond, and their depositions are scheduled for March 6.


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