Judge sides with defendants’ motion in pig stealing case

Pam Rivera photographed the pig July 3 when it was found wandering around her neighborhood near Proffit Road.

Courtesy Pam Rivera Pam Rivera photographed the pig July 3 when it was found wandering around her neighborhood near Proffit Road. Courtesy Pam Rivera

The man and woman charged with stealing, maiming and torturing a pig to death were in Albemarle County Circuit Court for a motions hearing February 7. But first, the backstory.

Last July, two Albemarle County Police officers picked up a pig in the Proffit Road area and took it to the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA. The following day, when animal control Officer Larry Crickenberger went to relocate the animal from the shelter because it doesn’t house livestock, he learned that an SPCA employee, Jerelyn Aymarie Sutter, along with Lee Edward Oakes, had taken it.

“Mr. Oakes stated he had given the pig to a friend who had taken him to a butcher,” Crickenberger testified in August. “I said for him to stop immediately.” Allegedly, Oakes then contended that it was a feral pig that had tusks and charged him.

During that hearing, a detective played the video showing an unnamed SPCA staff member helping Oakes put a harness and leash on the pig, whom supporters have dubbed Proffit, after the road on which it was found. Oakes is seen walking and petting the pig, and then engaging in some sort of altercation with it, before someone covers it in a white sheet.

“It appears the pig has been stabbed out of the frame,” a detective then testified. A veterinarian pathologist testified Proffit had 31 stab wounds.

Fast forward to the most recent hearing on February 7, when the defense team asked Judge Cheryl Higgins to require the prosecution to name its theory of ownership for the pig.

“We don’t even know that anyone owned this pig,” said Bonnie Lepold, who represents Oakes. “In fact, it could have been a wild pig.”

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Galloway argued that if something belongs to another person and it is stolen, the stealer can be charged with larceny without a prosecutor ever identifying the owner.
Higgins ruled that Galloway must provide the prosecution’s theory of ownership within 10 days.