Texas Man Whose Pet Cobra Is Still Missing After 2 Years Gets Probation, Reptile Ban
Lawrence Matl received a sentence of 180 days in jail probated over 15 months, according to the district attorney's office, along with the additional caveat that he not own a pet reptile during that time.
The scales of justice tipped against a Texas man who lost his pet cobra— two years ago.
A grand jury in Dallas County found Lawrence Matl guilty of releasing a snake from captivity under the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, according to the Dallas County District Attorney's Office.
Prosecutors and the defendant then agreed to a sentence of 180 days in jail probated over 15 months, according to the district attorney's office, along with the additional caveat that Matl not own a pet reptile during his supervision.
The Grand Prairie Police Department said that officers first learned about the escaped serpent on Aug. 3, 2021, when they were contacted by animal services about a venomous, six-foot West African Banded Cobra that had escaped its enclosure at a resident’s house.
Officers responded and spoke with Matl at his home, who informed them that he purchased "two cobras about two weeks earlier after winning a large sum of money off a lottery ticket," according to the district attorney's office.
Matl told officer that he fed the snake a rat, left the room for 15 minutes, and then returned to find that the snake had gone missing from its enclosure, says the district attorney's office.
Police officers at the scene said that Matl then "admitted he did not have a locking mechanism on the enclosure even though it had previously escaped."
A search to find the cobra lasted through the night, according to officers, but officials failed to find the snake. Grand Prairie police said Matl did have a Parks and Wildlife permit for the snake.
Officers did not arrest Matl until February of the following year, and his sentencing comes two years after he reported the venomous snake had gone missing.
The snake remains at large.
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