Historic Victory: Jury Acquits Baywatch Actor Alexandra Paul and Alicia Santurio of Larceny Charges in Merced County
Merced County, California – March 17, 2023 – In a monumental victory for animal rights activists, a jury of 12 has acquitted “Baywatch” actor Alexandra Paul and Alicia Santurio of larceny charges Friday. The two were on trial for rescuing two chickens from a Foster Farms slaughter truck in September 2021. This decision marks a significant step in recognizing the importance of compassion and empathy for all living beings, regardless of species.
Paul and Santurio, members of the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), faced charges for removing two suffering chickens from a truck outside a Foster Farms slaughterhouse. They argued that their actions were not theft but a rescue, akin to breaking a window to save a puppy locked in a hot car. Today’s acquittal highlights that the jury agreed with their perspective and recognized the importance of standing up against animal cruelty.
The footage captured by DxE in the Livingston slaughterhouse showed horrific conditions, with chickens being crushed, suffocated, and subjected to a range of cruel treatments. Furthermore, USDA Inspection reveals chickens being boiled alive within the Foster Farms facility. Despite the distressing evidence, Foster Farms maintained its denial of wrongdoing. In light of this, Paul and Santurio’s actions can be seen as a brave and necessary response to the inhumane practices at the facility.
As Alexandra Paul stated, “The only reason people know what’s happening to animals in these places – in factory farms, in labs or behind circus doors – is because of animal rights activists.” Today, the jury’s decision acknowledges the importance of these activists’ work and sends a message that society will no longer turn a blind eye to the suffering of animals in factory farming.
Wayne Hsiung, a founder of DxE and part of the defense council, made an emotional closing argument to the Jury: “Most of us probably have animals in our lives that we loved… I bet that many of us, if an animal was hurt, and we loved them, I’m betting that many of us would have the same intent, would take the same action, we would not leave that animal to starve to death on the floor of a slaughterhouse truck, or be boiled alive in an abusive slaughterhouse. we would help. we would rescue. And that’s not something our society should condemn. That’s not the worst in us. That’s the best in us. That’s the best in each of you.”
Hsiung emphasized the importance of protecting all animals, even the weakest and most vulnerable, challenging the jury to consider their own actions in a similar situation. He stated, “A little chicken might not seem like much put up against one of the largest poultry processors in the world, but to these two women, [points to Alicia Santurio and Alexandra Paul] ALL animals deserve protection, even the most weak and vulnerable, and yes, that even goes for a sick little chicken on the floor of a slaughterhouse truck.”
Highlighting the defendants’ motivation for their actions, Hsiung argued that they sought to make the world a slightly kinder place. He passionately declared, “And they did what they did because they knew somewhere out there, there was a little bird sick and scared and collapsed on the floor of a slaughterhouse truck who was crying out for help, and what Alexandra and Alicia intended, what they wanted more than anything in the world is for that little bird who has never known any kindness in her life, to feel love for the first time in her life. Members of the jury, that is not a theft, that is a rescue. And rescuing sick and dying animals is simply not a crime.”
Wayne Hsiung’s emotional closing argument will undoubtedly be remembered as a pivotal moment in the fight for animal rights. His tireless advocacy has helped shape a more just and humane society for all creatures, great and small.
We commend the efforts of the legal team, Alexandra Paul, Alicia Santurio, and all those who tirelessly advocate for the rights and welfare of animals. Today, their bravery and dedication have inspired countless others to take a stand against animal cruelty, and together, we will create a more compassionate world for all living beings.