Judge delays PETA trial

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 7, 2006

WINTON – One more delay.

A trial involving two PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) employees scheduled to begin Monday, Nov. 13 in Hertford County Superior Court has been postponed.

While a new date has not been officially announced, it is believed that it will be heard sometimes in mid-January.

The latest delay was a decision made by Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant who is expected to preside over the case.

In a press release from Judge Grant on Monday, he cited the impending Thanksgiving holiday as the reason behind the latest postponement. Judge Grant said he was concerned that the trial would not be able to reach a completion in the time allotted to hear it.

“It’s not fair to the jurors to bring them back Thanksgiving week and potentially be involved with the case over Thanksgiving,” Judge Grant said in the press release.

The judge went on to say that a short continuance would be appropriate to set a trial term in which he was sure the case would be tried with minimal inconvenience to the jurors.”

The case involves several charges lodged against Andrew Benjamin Cook of Virginia Beach, Va. and Adria Joy Hinkle of Norfolk, Va. The PETA employees were arrested June 15, 2005 in Ahoskie after allegedly euthanizing 31 animals (dogs and cats) and dumping the dead bodies into a waste container located behind an Ahoskie grocery store.

Prior to this latest delay, the court case has been postponed several times due to legal maneuverings on both sides.

Cook and Hinkle were originally charged with 31 felony counts each of cruelty to animals as well as one count of illegal dumping and misdemeanor trespassing charges.

Since their arrests, Asbell, in an effort to more properly identify the dead animals, replaced the original 31 felony cruelty charges with 22 counts against each of the defendants.

In addition, new charges were filed in October of last year as both Cook and Hinkle were accused of three counts of obtaining property by false pretense.

Those charges stem from the three cats/kittens allegedly picked-up by the pair on June 15, 2005 from Ahoskie Animal Hospital (AAH).

Dr. Pat Proctor, owner of AAH, he said he contacted PETA in regards to picking-up the animals. He further stated that Hinkle and Cook came to his business on June 15 and picked-up the animals, promising to find them good homes. However, the cat and her two kittens, all judged by Proctor as in good health and adoptable, were among the 31 dead animals linked to Hinkle’s and Cook’s possession on the day of their arrest.

Hinkle is being represented by Rich Square attorney Jack Warmack and Blair Brown of Washington, DC. Cook’s general counsel is Mark Edwards of Durham.

Hinkle and Cook were arrested by the Ahoskie Police Department late in the afternoon of June 15 after law enforcement officials, on a stake-out, observed a white van in which the two were operating stop in an area located behind Piggly Wiggly in Ahoskie’s Newmarket Shopping Center and toss several black bags in a commercial dumpster.

At that time, a traffic stop was initiated on the van – a vehicle registered to PETA.

The bags located in the dumpster contained 18 dead dogs, including one bag containing seven puppies. An additional 13 dead animals, including the mother cat and her two kittens, were found in the van.

Twenty-two of the animals discovered on June 15 were collected the same day by Hinkle and Cook from the Bertie County Animal Shelter, as confirmed by Bertie Animal Control Officer Barry Anderson.

An autopsy performed later on one of those dogs revealed the animal was in good health prior to its death.