December 8, 2009 - No Criminal Charges in Conn. Chimp Attack

Criminal prosecution in the Connecticut case of a chimpanzee biting a person won't be filed, the state attorney for the Stamford area said Tuesday.

Based on his investigation, "It is ... my determination ... that no criminal prosecution is warranted in this case, state attorney David Cohen said in a statement. "This does not in any way minimize the horror that we all feel with what occurred and with the horrendous injuries" to the woman disfigured when she was attacked by her friend's pet.

Charla Nash, 55, suffered brain damage, was permanently blinded, and lost both hands and parts of her face when she was attacked Feb. 16 by a friend's chimpanzee. The animal was later shot and killed by Stamford, Conn., police.

Prior to the February incident, the police were called in to help capture the chimpanzee, named Travis, when he escaped from a vehicle, Cohen said. The chimp was owned by Nash's friend, 51-year-old Sandra Herold.

To be found to have acted recklessly under our statutes, the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result forbidden by the statute would occur," Cohen said. "The investigation has not discovered any evidence that Mrs. Herold was aware of the risk that the chimpanzee posed and disregarded it."

Even though he wasn't filing criminal charges, Cohen said, a determination of responsibility for the incident "will have to be made in the civil courts of this state."

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