Today presented a huge victory for animal agriculture in Sioux City Iowa’s Woodbury County Courthouse. Victor VanOrden and Kellie Marshall appeared to enter pleas regarding their attempted attack on a local mink farm last October 10. Mr. VanOrden appearing first, entered a guilty plea to one count of Releasing an Animal(s) from an Animal Facility, a class D felony with a maximum prison sentence of 5 years, and one count of Attempted Burglary, an aggravated misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 2 years. The Dep’t of Corrections had recommended a sentence of probation as Mr. VanOrden had no past criminal record.
Citing the 1,200 mile trip the pair had made to commit the crime, and the fact that they had entered the property in the dead of night, wearing masks and carrying weapons, the court understood the serious nature of the crime and the implications of its decision on the nation’s farming community. Acting within the guidelines, the court gave VanOrden the maximum sentence on both counts, to be served concurrently. The court had received 26 letters from farmers in 8 states urging a prison sentence, and over two dozens farmers had packed the courtroom to witness the proceedings.
Kellie Marshall, sitting in the gallery awaiting her turn, immediately huddled with her attorneys, changing her plea to not guilty in order to avoid immediate sentencing. Her trial is scheduled for March 6, 2012
Fur Commission USA praises the court, and law enforcement’s efforts in fighting those that would destroy our businesses and livelihoods. This sentence sends a strong message that criminal acts against agriculture will not go unpunished.
The tragedy here, is that two young people’s lives will be forever altered because of their naive adherence to the message of misguided advocates and animal rights extremists.