Animal Cruelty Convictions Continue in Southside Virginia

   Written by on August 31, 2017 at 11:53 am

SOUTHSIDE – Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced on Tuesday that his Animal Law Unit secured seven more convictions in animal cruelty cases in Mecklenburg and Buckingham counties. Attorney General Herring and his Animal Law Unit secured three convictions in Mecklenburg and Lunenburg counties in June related to similar abuses at a Tyson breeder farm.

“These convictions send a clear, strong signal across the Commonwealth that my team and I take these crimes seriously, and that those who commit cruelty to animals will be held accountable for their actions,” said Attorney General Mark Herring. “Mistreatment of animals is both inhumane and illegal, and I’m glad to see the perpetrators of these crimes brought to justice.”

“Compassion Over Killing applauds the prosecution’s work and the decisions from the court to uphold anti-cruelty laws and protect animals from such horrific cruelty to birds as documented by our undercover investigator working for Tyson,” said Cheryl Leahy, General Counsel for Compassion Over Killing.  “This is a landmark victory in achieving justice for farm animals.”

Those convicted include:

Trent Johnson, age 56, of Drakes Branch, Va. Johnson pled no contest to animal cruelty in Buckingham Circuit Court and received 30 days in jail with all 30 days suspended for two years on the condition that he not supervise any crew working with animals for two years. Johnson was also found guilty in Lunenburg Circuit Court in June of two counts of cruelty to animals for mistreatment of chickens at the Tyson breeder farm which he owned. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail with all 30 days suspended for a period of two years. He is not allowed to supervise any chicken production crew for a period of two years.

William Atkins, age 43, of Rice, Va. Atkins pled no contest to animal cruelty in Mecklenburg Circuit Court and received 30 days with all 30 days suspended, on the condition that he cannot work with animals for one year. Atkins also pled no contest to animal cruelty in Buckingham Circuit Court, and received 30 days in jail with all 30 days suspended on the condition that he cannot work with animals for one year.

Judy Atkins, age 62, of Rice, Va. Atkins pled “facts sufficient to convict” in Buckingham Circuit Court, and had her case taken under advisement for one year on the condition that she not work with animals for one year.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch and Assistant Attorney General Kelci Block prosecuted the cases for the Office of the Attorney General.

Attorney General Herring established a first of its kind Animal Law Unit in January 2015. It has been recognized by the Norfolk SPCA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund for its groundbreaking trainings, complex investigations, and prosecutions of animal cruelty.

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