Guinea pig torture videos: Woods Cross suspect under mental evaluation
FARMINGTON — A Woods Cross man charged with torturing and killing guinea pigs and posting videos of the acts online is undergoing a court-ordered mental competency exam.
Judge Rita Cornish has scheduled a June 23 hearing to review mental health experts’ evaluations of Samuel J. Webster’s capacity to stand trial. The 19-year-old has pleaded not guilty to five class A misdemeanor charges of aggravated animal cruelty.
The case came to light in October 2021 when a YouTube user named “Dr. T” posted at least 17 videos of a man torturing and-or killing guinea pigs. A Woods Cross Police Department probable cause statement alleged that Webster pulled out hair, plucked out eyes with a tool, broke bones and inserted his fingers into orifices.
Titles of the videos included, “I tried to make a puppet out of a guinea pig,” “Torture is addicting,” “Fatality,” and “Ripped eye out.” YouTube users protested to Webster in the comments section and his replies allegedly included, “Killing and torture is my favorite activity” and “Somebody help me before I kill everyone else.”
The volume of complaints about the videos led YouTube to close Webster’s channel and remove the videos, but not before viewers had taken screenshots, saved some of the videos and reposted them on Reddit in an attempt to identify him.
He gave commenters a fake West Bountiful address, the arrest affidavit said. Police said the information collected on Reddit allowed them to trace the videos to Webster in Woods Cross. They also said they learned that Webster bought four guinea pigs and a mouse from local pet stores in September and October.
The arrest affidavit said investigators found a shed where Webster allegedly recorded the torture videos.
In March, Webster’s attorney, Scott Wilding, petitioned Cornish’s court for a mental competency evaluation. Wilding said Webster “suffers from diminished emotional and mental capacity such as to permanently limit his ability to have a rational and factual understanding of the charges and proceedings against him.”
Wilding added that Webster’s medical records show that he has “depression, anxiety and diminished cognitive capacity.” According to an evaluation by a clinical social worker, Webster was diagnosed with “severe cannabis use disorder,” “cannabis-induced bipolar and related disorder” and “antisocial personality disorder,” plus an “unspecified neurodevelopmental disorder.”
Webster is out of jail with orders to stay in contact with pretrial services personnel. Cornish also ordered that Webster “may not have any contact with animals while this case is pending.”