Charges have been dropped against a man suspected of breaking into poultry houses that are owned by contract growers for Pilgrim’s, a vandalism spree that led to the deaths of more than 300,000 chickens.
James Laverne Lowery, 44, was arrested at his home in Sumter County, South Carolina, on April 7 on eight counts of second degree burglary and four counts of malicious injury to animals over $100,000. Lowery, a former grower for Pilgrim’s whose contract was not renewed, had been tied to the case where he was accused of tampering with alarms to the chicken houses and tampering with heating units that would ultimately cause death to the birds. The crimes occurred in February at eight farms in Clarendon County, South Carolina. Damages were estimated around $1.7 million.
However, this week, Clarendon County Chief Magistrate Judge Percy Harvin said there was not sufficient evidence to further pursue the prosecution of the case, reported Manning Live. But Harvin added that Lowery could still be prosecuted, should the solicitor’s office choose to present the case to a grand jury for an indictment.
Pilgrim’s had earlier offered a reward of up to $50,000 for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crime.