ELLSWORTH (AP) – A second Maine Maritime Academy student was fined $1,000 for killing a pig in a case that has drawn the attention of animals rights activists nationwide.

Richard Hanning, 23, pleaded no contest Tuesday to animal cruelty and was handed the same fine that fellow student Timothy Golden received following his no contest plea last October.

Hanning and Golden, who were slaughtering the animal for an end-of-semester pig roast, were equally culpable and their sentences should be identical, Maine District Judge Bernard Staples said.

Hanning was not out to torture the pig in April 2002 when he and Golden pulled it from the back of a pickup truck, dragged it onto a Castine beach and cut its throat, Staples said.

“He was doing what he felt was acceptable,” the judge said.

Hancock County District Attorney Michael Povich said he has received 200 to 300 e-mails and letters from around the country urging him to prosecute Golden and Hanning fully for the animal’s death, and to require them to undergo psychological counseling.

The identical wording of many of the letters indicates that some kind of form letter likely was made available on a Web site, which encouraged people to send the letters to Povich, the prosecutor said.

Povich sought to have a videotape of the killing, recorded by another MMA student, played Tuesday in court, but Staples instead opted to have a state veterinarian who has viewed the tape describe what it shows.

Donald Hoenig of Belfast, a veterinarian who works for the Maine Department of Agriculture, said it took the pig roughly six minutes to die after Golden held it down and Hanning sliced its neck open with a knife.

Hoenig said the approved method for slaughtering pigs involves stunning the animal before cutting its neck so that it suffers as little as possible.

“I don’t think it was done in this case,” Hoenig said.

Hanning’s lawyer, Michael Harman of Millinocket, said after the proceeding that another veterinarian with whom he consulted viewed the tape and determined the pig suffered for only 30 seconds.

He said the videotaped killing was not as gruesome as Povich indicated.

“It’s certainly not pleasant, but it’s not beyond the experience of people who grew up in rural Maine with farm animals,” Harman said. “Back then, things were different.”

AP-ES-04-16-03 1604EDT

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