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Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice: Federal Judge Says Videos of Chopping Dog's Head With Meat Cleaver is "Protected Speech."

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Update: To find out more about this story, read our cover feature: Open Season: Do Laws Against Animal Crushing Videos Violate Free Speech?

A federal judge has dismissed charges against a Houston couple who sold videos of them torturing animals -- including beating a dog with a meat cleaver and stepping on a cat's eye with a shoe heel -- on free speech grounds.

Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice still face charges of producing, selling, or transferring obscene matters for sale or distribution. The two had originally been charged in Harris County District Court, but those charges were dismissed in December when the two were indicted on federal charges.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake wrote in his order that, while "the acts depicted in animal crush videos are disturbing and horrid," it is still considered protected speech.

We'll be updating soon.

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