Seven people have been convicted on charges connected to an animal abuse investigation that centered around Tyson Foods broiler breeder operations in Mecklenburg and Buckingham counties in Virginia. Two other suspects, and one of the seven recently convicted, were previously convicted in June.

The investigation began in 2016, after animal rights group Compassion Over Killing circulated the video. Tyson Foods immediately responded by conducting its own investigation, terminating ten workers and implementing an initiative in which workers in the company’s live operation were retrained in proper animal handling procedures.

“Animals deserve to be treated humanely. It’s our responsibility to ensure that everyone who works for our company behaves properly. Our management team is dedicated to continue fostering a culture of proper animal handling,” then-Tyson Foods vice president of sustainable food production Christine Daugherty said at the time.

"These convictions send a clear, strong signal across the Commonwealth that my team and I take these crimes seriously, and that those who commit cruelty to animals will be held accountable for their actions," said Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring. "Mistreatment of animals is both inhumane and illegal, and I'm glad to see the perpetrators of these crimes brought to justice."

Seven new convictions

According to a press release issued by Herring on August 29, the following convictions were made:

  • Samuel Downs, 42, Crewe, Virginia: Downs in Mecklenburg Circuit Court pled guilty to animal cruelty and received a sentence of 30 days in jail with all 30 days suspended, on the condition that he cannot work with animals for one year. He entered a no-contest plea on the same charges in Buckingham Circuit Court, and received the same sentence.
  • Tyrone Delaney, 44, Amelia, Virginia: Delaney pled guilty in Mecklenburg Circuit Court to two counts of animal cruelty and received 12 months in jail with all 12 months suspended on the condition that he does not work with animals for one year. Delaney also pled no contest to two counts of animal cruelty in Buckingham Circuit Court and received 12 months in jail with all 12 months suspended on the condition that he does not work with animals for one year.
  • Robin Bowen, 61, Crewe, Virginia: Bowen pled guilty in Mecklenburg Circuit Court to 12 months in jail with all 12 months suspended, and he cannot work with animals for one year. Bowen also pled no contest to animal cruelty in Buckingham Circuit Court and received 12 months in jail with all 12 months suspended on the condition that he does not work with animals for one year.
  • Jacob Sorrell, 21, Redford, New York: Sorrell pled guilty in Mecklenburg Circuit Court to two counts of animal cruelty and received 12 months in jail with all 12 months suspended on the condition that he cannot work with animals for 5 years.
  • William Atkins, 43, Rice, Virginia: Atkins pled no contest to animal cruelty in Mecklenburg Circuit Court and received 30 days with all 30 days suspended, on the condition that he cannot work with animals for one year. Atkins also pled no contest to animal cruelty in Buckingham Circuit Court, and received 30 days in jail with all 30 days suspended on the condition that he cannot work with animals for one year.
  • Judy Atkins, 62, Rice, Virginia: Atkins pled "facts sufficient to convict" in Buckingham Circuit Court, and had her case taken under advisement for one year on the condition that she not work with animals for one year.
  • Trent Johnson56, Drakes Branch, Virginia: Johnson pled no contest to animal cruelty in Buckingham Circuit Court and received 30 days in jail with all 30 days suspended for 2 years on the condition that he not supervise any crew working with animals for 2 years. Johnson was also found guilty in Lunenburg Circuit Court in June of two counts of cruelty to animals for mistreatment of chickens at the Tyson breeder farm which he owned. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail with all 30 days suspended for a period of two years. He is not allowed to supervise any chicken production crew for a period of two years.

June convictions

The seven new convictions follow three prior convictions announced by Herring in June. One of those involved Johnson. The other two convictions were:

  • Jimmie Lawson, 62, Blackstone, Virginia: Lawson was found guilty in Mecklenburg Circuit Court of three counts of cruelty to animals for mistreatment of chickens at a Tyson breeder farm by cruelly killing them. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail with all 30 days suspended for one  year, and is barred from working with animals for one year. He also pled guilty to two counts of cruelty to animals in Lunenburg Circuit Court and was sentenced to 30 days in jail with all 30 days suspended for one year, and ordered to not work with animals for one year.
  • Harold Parent, 28, from Plattsburgh, New York. Parent pled guilty in Mecklenburg Circuit Court to mistreatment of chickens at a Tyson breeder farm. He was sentenced to twelve months in jail with all 12 months suspended for a period of five years. He may not work with animals for five years.