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PETA trial begins Nov. 13

WINTON – After numerous delays, the trial involving two PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) employees is scheduled to begin Monday, Nov. 13 in Hertford County Superior Court.

While she would not go into any major details of the impending trial, local District 6B Attorney Valerie Asbell, who will prosecute the case on behalf of the state, said jury selection will begin on the morning of Nov. 13. Asbell said she hoped to begin presenting the state’s evidence one day later.

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.

Due to legal maneuverings on both sides, the court case has been postponed several times.

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.

Resident Superior Court Judge Cy Grant is scheduled to preside over the trial.

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.