Trial date set for owner of escaped Orlando king cobra

Michael Kennedy faces charges in case

By Mark Lehman - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - A trial date was scheduled Thursday in the case of the owner of a king cobra that escaped in Orlando in 2015.

A judge said the trial for Mike Kennedy is scheduled to begin March 15.

A motion filed by Kennedy's attorneys to have statements he allegedly made to investigators was not addressed. The judge is expected to rule on the motion before the trial begins.

Kennedy's attorney, Fleet Tilden, said Kennedy would likely take the stand if the case goes to trial.

"(I'm) anxious for him to take the stand if it makes it that far, because he has a story to tell and I think the jury will be very sympathetic to him," Tilden said.

Kennedy, a cast member of the Discovery Channel's "Airplane Repo," has been charged with holding wildlife in an improper manner that caused it to escape, not maintaining proper housing and failing to report the escape.

"The only way they can place the charge, which is the count one charge not reporting, is by his own statement," Tilden said. "So, without his statement, they can't prove it."

Tilden said until Kennedy was certain the snake had actually escaped he was under no requirement to report it.

In September 2015, searchers spent more than four weeks looking for any sign of the highly venomous snake, named Elvis. The cobra was found hiding under a woman's clothes dryer less than a half mile from where it escaped.

State officials have since revoked Kennedy's license to keep venomous reptiles.

After reporting the escape, Kennedy allegedly told a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission official he waited more than 24 hours to report the missing snake.

 

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