Friendship ends in courtroom

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 26, 2007

WINTON – Barry Anderson said he developed a great working relationship with Adria Hinkle and considered her as a friend.

The Bertie County Animal Control Officer admitted that he trusted Hinkle, an employee of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), so much to the point where he gave her his terrier, one that he had trouble in housebreaking, in order to find the dog another home.

Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine he would one day have to offer court testimony against Hinkle.

But that day is here as Hinkle, along with co-defendant Andrew Cook, is on trial in Hertford County Criminal Superior Court for 21 counts of felony animal cruelty as well as other charges. Ironically, those charges came on the heels of Hinkle and Cook euthanizing animals picked-up June 15, 2005 from the Bertie County Animal Shelter, managed by Anderson.

Providing testimony on Thursday, Anderson said he was part of an investigation that eventually centered on PETA workers who were leaving a trail of dead animals in their wake. However, Anderson said he still firmly believed that the PETA workers, including Hinkle, were transporting the animals back to Norfolk, Va. where attempts could be made to find the pets a new home.

Anderson alluded to two Dalmatians at the Bertie shelter. He testified that he talked to Hinkle about those dogs, asking if she felt they were adoptable, which he claimed she answered yes.

Later in the afternoon of June 15, 2005, Anderson said he was summoned to Ahoskie where he was asked to identify dead animals found inside a dumpster behind Piggly Wiggly. He affirmed they were the same dogs taken earlier that day by Hinkle and Cook from the Bertie shelter. Included among the dead dogs were the two Dalmatians.

During cross examination by Blair Brown, one of Hinkle’s defense attorneys, Anderson answered affirmatively that PETA has assisted him in making improvements at the Bertie shelter as well as paid for his continuing education to learn more about animal cruelty investigations and how to clean and maintain an animal shelter. Anderson also confirmed that Hinkle was among the volunteers to make improvements at the shelter.

Brown’s questioning then turned towards the animal pick-ups made by PETA employees from the Bertie shelter. He asked Anderson had he ever looked in the back on the van that PETA used to transport the animals, saying it was very cramped quarters.

“Do you believe that in such a small compartment that 15-to-20 live dogs could be transported back to Norfolk, Va.,” Brown inquired.

He went on to ask Anderson if he ever witnessed PETA employees injecting the animals with any type of drugs. Anderson said yes, but added that he was told that the drugs were a sedative used to calm the animals for the trip.

Brown then asked if Anderson remembered a particular call for PETA assistance at a private residence on NC 308 near Windsor to address a problem with an animal.

“Didn’t you ask them (PETA employees) to follow you to the residence to euthanize a dog,” Brown asked.

“Yes, I asked them to follow me, but I did not request them to euthanize the dog, only to check out the problem,” Anderson answered.

“Did they euthanize the dog in your presence,” Brown inquired, to which Anderson said yes. “So you called PETA because you knew they euthanized animals.” Again, Anderson answered affirmatively.

Later in the testimony, Anderson said he had no knowledge of any type of agreement that PETA had to euthanize animals at the Bertie shelter.

“But you were aware that some had to be euthanized,” asked Brown.

“Yes, if they were sick,” Anderson replied.

Mark Edwards, the defense attorney for Cook, asked Anderson about how he became involved with the investigation, led by Ahoskie Police Detective Sgt. Jeremy Roberts, concerning several instances of dead animals being dumped in Ahoskie. Anderson said he was first contacted by Roberts on May 19, 2005 and again on June 2 and June 9. He said by June 9, he was positive the dead animals found in the Ahoskie dumpster were those picked-up at the Bertie shelter.

“You were asked to photograph the animals at the shelter on June 14, 2005,” Edwards asked. “Weren’t you told to expect that those animals would be killed?”

“I don’t believe that’s true (what to expect),” he answered.

“Did Detective Roberts tell you not to release the animals to PETA on June 15, 2005 because they might be killed,” Edwards inquired, to which Anderson answered no.

In a redirect by Brown, he asked Anderson if PETA would have called on June 13 or 14, 2005 and said they were never coming to Bertie County again, wouldn’t those animals been euthanized anyway?

“I can’t answer that question because I don’t know,” Anderson said.

District 6B Attorney Valerie Mitchell Asbell, who had earlier questioned Anderson on behalf of the state prosecution, in a redirect, asked Anderson if he had ever seen a PETA employee euthanize an animal at the Bertie shelter, to which Anderson said no.

She then again addressed the conversation Anderson had with Hinkle concerning the adoption of the Dalmatians.

“Did you think she was going to that van and kill the Dalmatians,” Asbell asked.

“No,” replied Anderson.