Victorious ending for defendants in a trial over stolen piglets

Oct 10, 2022, 10:00 AM | Updated: 10:04 am
Piglet trial...
Artist rendering of defendant Wayne Hsiung, who is representing himself, presenting photographic evidence to jurors (Credit: Kitty Jones/Direct Action Everywhere)
(Credit: Kitty Jones/Direct Action Everywhere)

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah — A trial that began last Monday, Oct. 3, lasted nearly a week until a final verdict was reached on Saturday. 

The trial involved defendants and activists Paul Picklesimer and Wayne Hsiung, who stole two piglets they claimed were dying from a Smithfield farm. 

Consequently, the state of Utah argued against the two activists, stating they were outside legal limits for stealing property and potentially causing financial harm. 

Contrarily, Pickelsimer’s lawyer and Hsiung, who represented himself, urged the jurors to separate legality and conscience.

“I don’t actually want you to acquit us on a legal technicality,” said Hsiung in his closing remarks to jurors. “I want you to acquit us as a matter of conscience. There’s a big difference between stealing and rescue.”

The activists were facing charges of felony burglary and theft. This wasn’t their first time facing criminal charges for stealing “suffering” animals. 

Assistant Utah Attorney General Janise Macanas brought turkey farmer Rick Pitman to the witness stand, someone Hsiung had previously stolen a turkey from. Pitman was asked if Hsiung’s actions had caused him financial harm.

He replied, “There’s a difference between stealing a turkey and rescuing a turkey who is suffering.”

Both the state of Utah and the two the activists gave their closing statements on Friday. Fifth District Judge Jeffrey C. Wilcox acquitted Pickelsimer and Hsiung of their charges by Saturday. 

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Victorious ending for defendants in a trial over stolen piglets