Hinkle admits to previous disposals

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 2, 2007

WINTON – June 15, 2005 wasn’t the first time that Adria Hinkle had used a dumpster to dispose of dead animals.

During Thursday’s testimony here in Hertford County Criminal Superior Court, Hinkle, a former PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) on trial for animal cruelty and other charges, said she had previously dumped dead dogs she euthanized in a local dumpster.

Under cross examination by District 6B Attorney Valerie Mitchell Asbell, Hinkle admitted that June 15, 2005 was not the first time disposing of dead animals in a dumpster. It was on that date where Hinkle, along with co-defendant Andrew Cook, were arrested by the Ahoskie Police Department after the two were observed by law enforcement officers on a stakeout tossing black bags in a private dumpster located behind Piggly Wiggly Supermarket in Ahoskie’s New Market Shopping Center.

Asbell wanted to know how Hinkle, who was living in Norfolk at the time she worked for PETA, knew to find a dumpster behind Piggly Wiggly. Hinkle said she knew dumpsters were normally found behind grocery stores and went looking for one in this case.

“Isn’t it true that you have used this dumpster before,” Asbell asked, to which Hinkle replied affirmatively.

When asked of other specific dates where Hinkle had used the dumpster, the defendant responded she didn’t recall the dates.

Beginning in mid May, dead animals were showing up, nearly on a weekly basis, in the Piggly Wiggly dumpster. Hinkle told Asbell she used that dumpster on June 2, but could not recall any other dates.

“The dumpster was convenient,” Hinkle said. “I regret I did it.”

When asked about the course of events that immediately took place upon her arrest, Hinkle could not remember exactly what she told the officer other than she needed to contact her general counsel (attorney).

Hinkle said the decision to dump the animals on June 15 was due to it was a very hot day and the smell of the dead dogs and cats in the van was becoming unbearable.

Asbell also questioned Hinkle on other issues, including her testimony that she euthanized the personal pet of Bertie Animal Control Officer Barry Anderson. He had given the pet to Hinkle because he was having trouble housebreaking the dog.

Hinkle said she took photos of the animal, still alive at that time, in a field of flowers during a trip back to PETA headquarters in Norfolk. She said she euthanized the animal upon returning to the office and later mailed the “field” photos to Anderson.

She further testified she never told Anderson, who has been in the courtroom throughout the trial and offered testimony last week, that she had killed his dog.

Using that knowledge in regards to the mother cat and two kittens picked-up June 15 at the Ahoskie Animal Hospital (AAH) and euthanized the same day, Asbell asked if Hinkle took photos of those cats and sent them to AAH employees?

Earlier testimony in the trial from the AAH employees revealed they had turned over the cat and two kittens under the impression that Hinkle would find adoptive homes. Hinkle contended she never promised anything to the AAH employees and further testified she had planned to euthanize the cats before arriving at AAH.

Hinkle took the stand shortly after court convened on Thursday morning. There, under direct questioning from her defense attorney Blair Brown, Hinkle laid out the events of June 15, 2005.

Accompanied by Cook, who was making his first PETA associated trip to North Carolina as a CAP (Community Animal Project) volunteer, Hinkle said they left Norfolk at 8:30 a.m. and arrived at AAH around 10 a.m. There she took possession of the mother cat and two kittens, stating she made no promises to have the animals adopted.

In a surprise move by the defense at that point, a young lady seated in the audience was asked to come to the center aisle of the courtroom. She was identified as AAH employee Karen Hoggard. Brown asked Hinkle was this the employee that handed over the cat/kittens, to which Hinkle said yes.

Other AAH employees had previously testified that Hinkle and Cook came on the afternoon of June 15 to pick-up the cat/kittens and to drop off an injured dog taken from the Bertie Animal Shelter. That testimony revealed that AAH employee Tonya Northcott handed over the cat/kittens.

Hinkle went on to testify that she euthanized the cat/kittens a short time later after observing them “panting” inside a carrier located in the back of the van used that day.

She said they arrived at the Town of Windsor Animal Shelter around 1 p.m. where they cleaned the shelter and euthanized a few animals.

Following a break for lunch, Hinkle testified she and Cook went to the Bertie County Animal Shelter. Upon arriving, they observed two Dalmatians fighting a boxer. The boxer, she said, had a previous neck injury, one aggravated by the fight. After gaining permission from Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb, Hinkle and Cook drove the injured boxer to AAH where they left it for treatment.

Returning to the Bertie Shelter, Hinkle said she didn’t want the Dalmatians to have an opportunity to possibly attack other animals and opted at that time to euthanize the Dalmatians first.

One by one, Hinkle said Cook brought other animals from the shelter to the van where she would perform euthanasia by a lethal injection of sodium pentobarbital. The animals were then placed in heavy trash bags and left in the van.

She said the entire process to euthanize the dogs took two hours. Over the next 30 minutes, Hinkle said Cook cleaned the shelter.

Upon leaving the shelter, she and Cook began their trip back to Norfolk by using US 13. Along the way, she testified she and Cook engaged in a conversation concerning the smell of the dead animals.

“I made the decision to dispose of some of the bags behind the (New Market) shopping center,” Hinkle said. “I wish I hadn’t; it was very disrespectful to the community.”