Jurors Selected in PETA Trial

New York Times/January 24, 2007

Winton, N.C. -- Farmers and hunters were among those excluded from the jury in a trial of two animal rights activists charged with cruelty, but defense attorneys did allow three slaughterhouse workers to join the panel.

Adria J. Hinkle, of Norfolk, Va., and Andrew B. Cook of Virginia Beach, Va., are accused of euthanizing animals and dumping them into a grocery store trash bin. At the time, both were volunteers for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

Lawyers in the case struggled to find people in this town of fewer than 1,000 residents who weren't acquainted with any of the more than 60 witnesses in the case. Potential jurors who knew about the case or had opinions about PETA were thrown out, as were some farmers and hunters. But defense attorneys did allow three jurors who worked for a slaughterhouse.

Hinkle and Cook face 21 counts each of animal cruelty in addition to charges of littering and obtaining property by false pretenses. Their trial resumes Wednesday.

Hinkle and Cook were PETA volunteers in Norfolk, Va., when they offered to take animals from crowded animal shelters in three counties. Their lawyer said the load of animals became too large, and the workers began lethally injecting the dogs and cats and dumping their bodies in a trash bin at the grocery store.

The pair was arrested in June 2005, after police said they saw Hinkle and Cook dump several bags of dead animals into the bin. Police said they found more dead animals in the duo's van.

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