Woodhaven — Details about Grosse Ile High School lacrosse players alleged slaughter of a guinea pig emerged Monday as two of the teens were ordered to stand trial for the crime.
During a preliminary examination in 33rd District Court in Woodhaven for the defendants — Tanner Coolsaet, 18, and Michael Roth, 17 — authorities put on the stand three witnesses, two of the teens’ teammates and a store clerk who sold them a guinea pig.
Coolsaet and Roth each are charged with two counts of killing/torturing an animal and conspiracy to kill/torture an animal, both felonies. If convicted, they face a maximum of four years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each count.
The defendants’ teammates testified Coolsaet, Roth and another player arranged for a group of about 10 boys to meet at Grosse Ile High School around 11:30 a.m. on April 30 and head over to a nearby beach. The judge ordered the media not to identify the underage witnesses.
Coolsaet and Roth told them they wanted to kill the animal for luck in their next lacrosse game.
“A lot of us didn’t want to kill it,” one witness said. “We said we should keep it as a pet.”
The witnesses said the group of boys was split on killing the animal. One of the teens recommended letting the guinea pig decide its own fate: they’d divide into two groups around a table, put the animal on it and if it crawled to the group that wanted to keep it alive, they’d let it live.
“The guinea pig crawled to the ‘Kill’ side,” he said. “I believe Mike hit it with a small baseball bat and then (one of the boys in the group) stabbed it with a knife. There was blood all over.”
The other witness testified some of the boys in the group dipped their fingers in the animal’s blood and painted their faces with it. He also said one of the defendants even dipped his tongue in it because “it was all red.”
He also said one of the defendants collected $2 from each of the group to reimburse him for the purchase.
Aria Ganz-Waple, 21, who works in the pet store where Coolsaet and Roth bought the guinea pig, identified the defendants and said they filled out the forms the business requires when rescue animals are purchased. She said a third teen was them, but “he was meandering around the store” and she couldn’t readily identify him.
After the testimony, District Court Judge James Kersten bound Coolsaet and Roth over for trial. They are to appear in Wayne County Circuit Court on Aug. 29.
“The evidence in this case does show probable cause that the defendants (broke the law) by killing a guinea pig on April 30, 2016,” Kersten said.
Kersten continued their $5,000 personal bonds. The two teens are free, but are not to have contact with any animal aside from family pets.
The families and attorneys of Coolsaet and Roth declined to comment after the judge’s ruling.
A third player has been charged in Juvenile Court in the case with a count of killing/torturing an animal and a count of animal cruelty. Officials are not releasing the name of the 16-year-old player because he is a minor.