Merced Trial over ‘Rescue’ of Slaughterhouse-Bound Chickens Features ‘Baywatch’ Star as Accused, and Maybe Other Hollywood Actors


By Crescenzo Vellucci

The Vanguard Sacramento Bureau Chief

MERCED, CA – A trial slated to start here in Merced County Superior Court March 7 is of the most unusual kind—first, one of the accused is a Hollywood actress who is itching for trial and has refused all plea offers; second, the case involves the “rescue” of chickens destined for a slaughterhouse; and, three, large corporate agricultural businesses are intimately involved.

Former “Baywatch” star Alexandra Paul faces misdemeanor petty theft charges for rescuing at-risk chickens from a Foster Farms truck just before it entered a slaughterhouse in Livingston, CA, Sept. 28, 2021. 

Foster Farms, whose slaughterhouse would have been the final destination for the rescued chickens, is now being forced by the court to provide records showing the health conditions of the flock of chickens on the truck when the rescue took place—both chickens received medical treatment, but one died while the other is alive at a sanctuary, noted a local news report.

“Foster Farms will be compelled to provide evidence regarding diseased, deceased, and condemned birds from the flock that included Jax and Ethan. This is an important victory that will certainly impact the trial, and future legal efforts,” said Direct Action Everywhere, the advocacy group that coordinates farm animal rescue protests throughout the U.S.

According to a statement issued late last week by the defense, Paul, who resides in Oregon, and Alicia Santurio, from the SF Bay Area, are “volunteer factory farm investigators for the Direct Action Everywhere.” 

The statement noted the activists rejected all plea deals and chose to go to trial, which could result in six months in jail if they are convicted, said Paul.

The accused admit they “rescued” the chickens. See video:

Paul also announced last week she is planning to call character witnesses, including actors Daryl Hannah and Daphne Zuniga, and US Olympic medalist Dotsie Bausch, among others.

Paul has appeared in more than 100 film and television shows, including five years starring on Baywatch, alongside Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd (Dragnet), Kevin Costner (American Flyers), Pierce Brosnan (Death Train and its sequel Night Watch) and costars in a movie releasing this year, Baby Steps. 

There’s no word from either defense or prosecution if those witnesses will be allowed, and it may be one of the pretrial motions argued early this coming week before jury selection.

Paul is adamant she wants a chance to argue the case for the chickens.

“We are representing the rights of these animals to have a decent life and a humane death.  If your cat was being ground up alive or scalded while still sentient, you would be horrified.  That is happening every day inside these chicken slaughterhouses,” she said in a prepared statement.

And, Santurio added, “There is something deeply wrong with our current system when those who help animals face time in jail and are treated like criminals, while those who harm them make millions in profit.”

On the day Santurio and Paul rescued two birds, Jax and Ethan, DxE released hidden camera footage from “inside the slaughterhouse showing chickens routinely missing the stun bath and a device designed to cut their necks, leaving it to workers to identify conscious birds before their evisceration, at a speed of 140 birds per minute.”

According to a story in The Intercept, an animal rights group, Mercy for Animals, in 2015, said it “documented workers throwing live chickens against metal shackles, birds being scalded alive, and other treatment that the group argued amounted to animal cruelty. Mercy for Animals complained to the Federal Trade Commission that Foster Farms’ labeling of its products as certified by the American Humane Association, or AHA, deceived consumers. The agency declined to take action.”

DxE’s new footage, said The Intercept, shows Foster Farms, California’s largest poultry producer, “continuing to engage in similar behavior that activists allege amounts to cruel treatment of live chickens. Foster Farms, which was recertified by the AHA earlier this year, has been on the receiving end of millions of dollars in state and local subsidies to expand its product lines in California.”

The Intercept, after it viewed the footage, said it “shows workers throwing live chickens on the concrete floor; discarded yet conscious birds under the weight of one another; some chickens missing electrical waterbaths designed to stun them before slaughter — all under the supervision of employees working dangerous and long shifts in the dark.”

Although it’s not expected to be argued at length at trial, DxE alleges, according to The Intercept, the footage details “a violation of California code outlawing animal cruelty, Foster Farms’ AHA certification, and the company’s own policy to raise chickens free from hunger, discomfort, pain, cages, and distress.” 

Santurio is represented by attorneys Kevin Little of Fresno, CA and Chris Carraway of Denver, CO.  Paul is represented by activist attorney Wayne Hsiung of San Francisco.


About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for