Canadian police charge man in deaths of young brothers who were asphyxiated by python

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CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick — Canadian police have charged a man in the death of two young brothers who were asphyxiated by a python at his home.

Jean-Claude Savoie was charged with criminal negligence causing death, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced Tuesday. The charge carries a possible life sentence.

Connor Barthe, 6, and his 4-year-old brother Noah were found dead on Aug. 5, 2013 in Savoie's apartment in Campbellton, New Brunswick.

Police say the 45-kilogram (100-pound) Africa Rock python snake escaped a glass tank through a vent and slithered through a ventilation pipe. Its weight caused the pipe to collapse, and it fell into the living room where the boys were sleeping. Autopsies concluded that the boys died from asphyxiation.

Savoie, 38, owns an exotic pet store beneath his apartment. Following the deaths of the two brothers, wildlife officers removed animals from the store. Twenty-three reptiles that are banned in the province without a permit were seized and four alligators were euthanized.

African rock pythons have been banned in New Brunswick to all but accredited zoos since 1992. Those zoos must obtain a permit in order to keep the animals.

Savoie is due in court on April 27 to face the charge.

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