Lawyer for animal rights group convicted of taking goat from Sospiro Goat Ranch

Wayne Hsiung, along with deputy lawyer Jonathan Frohnmayer and paralegal Erica Wilson, speaks outside the Transylvania County Courthouse on November 29, 2021.

A jury found Wayne Hsiung guilty on Monday of theft and breaking and entering charges for taking a goat at Sospiro Goat Ranch in 2018.

Hsiung – a lawyer and co-founder of animal rights activism group Direct Action Everywhere – claimed he saved the goat to receive veterinary treatment for pneumonia and did not steal it. He appeared in Transylvanian County Court before Judge Peter Knight.

Hsiung told The Times-News that he plans to appeal. “I feel it’s bittersweet – I’m free,” he said. “On the other hand, there are so many animals still in pain and in captivity. The purpose from the start of it all was to encourage the government to take these animal cruelty situations a little more seriously in this area. the farms.”

Hsiung added that he was not allowed by Knight to explain to the court why he took the goat and that the jury “was given such a selective examination of the evidence”, including the exclusion of the testimony, he said. -he declares.

Before the trial began last week, Hsiung filed a motion to dismiss the charges on the grounds that under North Carolina theft law animals are people and not property, he said. declared. Knight denied the request.

Knight sentenced Hsiung to 24 months probation and restitution to ranch owners as well as consecutive suspended prison terms for each charge, meaning he will not serve time behind bars, according to the attorney general of District Andrew Murray.

“He was an activist lawyer who came here from California to break our laws and flaunt our laws and stole a goat from a farmer,” Murray said. “I am delighted that I condemned him and that he has consequences for his actions.”

Murray spoke about the case for Assistant District Attorneys Robert Brackett and Jason Hayes, who were the prosecutors.

An article on the ranch website says, “We run a small family farm and are responsible caretakers of the animals in our care. Our goats have 5 hectares of green pastures and graze to which they have free access and receive a balanced diet. Mothers with babies are safely protected. Dry stalls in a spacious barn that was built just for them. “

The post alleges that the baby goat developed pneumonia after being caught and malnourished by Direct Action Everywhere.

Lurah Lowery is the education and municipal government watchdog reporter for the Hendersonville Times-News, part of the USA Today Network. Twitter: @lurahlowery. Concerns or story ideas? Email Lurah at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Hendersonville Times-News: Animal rights activist convicted of kidnapping goat from Asheville farm

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