State Won't Press Charges in Chimp Attack
No criminal charges for owner of Travis, chimp that ripped off friend's face.
Dec. 7, 2009— -- State prosecutors will not press criminal charges against a Connecticut woman who owned a 200 pound chimpanzee that mauled her friend Charla Nash, leaving her blind and grotesquely disfigured.
Connecticut State attorney David Cohen called the attack a "horror" and said the facts were "uncontroverted."
But he declined to press charges against Sandra Herold who owned the chimp named Travis, saying Herold had not acted recklessly when she asked Nash to help cage Travis because the animal had never previously attacked someone.
"The investigation has not discovered any evidence that Mrs. Herold was aware of the risk that the chimpanzee posed and disregarded it. The animal had not previously exhibited violent behavior, especially toward the victim, Ms. Nash, with whom he interacted regularly, and who was present that day specifically because it was thought that she could help in controlling the chimpanzee," Cohen said in a statement.
"Additionally, there is no record of the State Department of Environmental Protection warning Mrs. Herold in any way that the animal could be dangerous and pose a threat to people," he said.
Cohen said investigators who conducted a necropsy found no signs of illness, but did find trace elements of the anti-anxiety medication Xanax. At the time of the attack Herold said she gave the ape some of the pills in a teacup, but later withdrew that comment.
The chimpanzee attacked Nash in February when Herold asked her friend and an employee in her home-based towing company to help lure the animal back into its room-sized cage.
Herold kept the ape in her home and regularly ate meals with the animal seated at her dining table.
Nash's family has filed a civil suit against Herold for $50 million and wants to sue the state for $150 million.