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First Day of Trial Complete for Couple Accused of Stealing, Killing Pig

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Lee Oakes Jr. Lee Oakes Jr.
Jerelyn Sutter Jerelyn Sutter
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

The first day of trial for two people accused of inhumanly killing a pig finished around 8 p.m. at Albemarle Circuit Court in Charlottesville.

Lee Oakes Jr. and Jerelyn Sutter are charged with malicious wounding with intent to harm an animal, stealing a swine, and misdemeanor of animal cruelty.

Both defendants say they are not guilty of the charges, the defense claims the pig was feral and had no owner.

Thursday, April 20, started with the court questioning potential jurors, and the jury was seated in the early afternoon.

Authorities believe the couple stole a pig from the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA on July 3, 2016, for the purposes of eating it during a Fourth of July barbeque.

Video surveillance reportedly shows the couple taking the pig, and killing it in the parking lot of the SPCA.

Sutter is a former employee of the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA. Oakes, Sutter’s boyfriend, does not deny that he killed the pig.

A veterinarian had previously testified that the animal was stabbed 31 times around the neck.

At least 15 witnesses are expected to testify during the trial, including the veterinarian who performed the necropsy on the pig, former and current SPCA employees, and officers with the Albemarle County Police Department.

An animal control officer testified that based on the way the pig acted around people, he believed the animal had an owner.

An officer testified that she contacted several shelters to see who could take in the pig, but none were available at the time. At which point the pig was dropped off at the SPCA. She and another officer say they did not give the SPCA permission to move the pig or to kill it.

Jose Zimora took the witness stand, telling the court that he was caring for the pig while authorities determined who owned it, and it escaped from his property. 

Animal-rights advocates gathered inside the courtroom throughout the day, showing their support for the prosecution.

The second day of the trial gets underway Friday morning.