Accused burglar bitten by crocodile faces St. Johns County judge

Man accused of breaking into St. Augustine Animal Farm could lose foot

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A man accused of breaking into the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and who deputies said was bitten by a crocodile while inside was on crutches as he faced a judge Monday on charges of burglary, criminal mischief and violating probation. 

Brandon Hatfield, 23, is accused of jumping into an exhibit with three crocodiles during the several pre-dawn hours he spent inside the reptile facility Nov. 6. According to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, he caused more than $5,000 in damage to the property while inside.

Fighting back tears, Hatfield's mother, Corrine, said her son had got involved with the wrong crowd in Green Cove Springs and he's been struggling with drug addiction. She said he's tried to get help.

She learned about what happened to her son in St. Augustine not by getting a call from police, but by seeing the story on the news.

"If my son was dead and he was eaten by a crocodile, they would come tell me my son was dead," Corrine Hatfield said. "I don't care if your child is 6 or 26, they're still always your children."

Hatfield's foot remains bandaged. His mother said if doctors are not able to control the infection, his foot may need to be amputated. 

At Monday's pretrial hearing, the judge passed the rest of the case to January.

"If the state don't help him, his family will help him. And we just keep praying every day that he seeks God and gets away from the drugs," Corrine Hatfield said.

About the Authors:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013. She reports for and anchors The Morning Show.