Iowa Public Television


Slaughterhouse Worker Wants Charges Dropped

posted on April 11, 2008

CHINO, Calif. (AP) — A lawyer for a man caught on video dragging sick cows and shocking them at a Southern California slaughterhouse has asked a judge to dismiss criminal charges against his client, arguing that he bears no liability for the apparent mistreatment.

Attorney Ruben Salazar contends in recently filed court documents that the charges faced by former slaughterhouse worker Daniel Ugarte Navarro apply only to business entities and not to individual people, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported on its Web site Tuesday.

Navarro pleaded not guilty last month to five felony counts and three misdemeanor counts of animal abuse. Prosecutors have said he faces more than eight years in prison if convicted as charged.

A worker supervised by Navarro, Rafael Sanchez Herrera, was sentenced to six months in jail last month after pleading guilty to three misdemeanor counts of illegal movement of a non-ambulatory animal.

The undercover video, shot by the Humane Society of the United States, led to a federal investigation that resulted in the largest beef recall in U.S. History in February.

The video shows workers at the Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. dragging sick cows with metal chains and forklifts, shocking them with electric prods and shooting streams of water into their noses and faces.

Salazar claims in his filing that prosecutors leveled excessive charges against Navarro to appease an angry public and animal rights activists.

Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus said Tuesday she had only briefly reviewed Salazar's court filing but believed it to be baseless.

A hearing on the dismissal request was set for April 17.

Westland/Hallmark president Steve Mendell's attorney, Asa Hutchinson, did not immediately respond to a phone message before business hours Wednesday.

Tags: abuse animals jobs livestock news