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Three University of Vermont (UVM) students are accused of stealing, killing, and eating a frat house's chicken.
UVM police allege that Cameron Dube, Darien Newman, and Hannah Jackman, all 18, snuck into the Alpha Gamma Rho frat house in Burlington, Vermont, snatched a chicken, then killed, plucked, and ate it. The students were originally facing trespass and theft charges, but the Burlington Free Press reports that the three chicken snatchers have been "referred to the university's reparative board."
What's the deal with this fowl deed?
The tree 18-year-old UVM students allegedly decided to make one frat house chicken into a quick dinner. For our money, it sounds like the sort of freshman "Animal House"-style prank that might still occur on many college campuses. (The ones that have chickens, anyhow.) Regardless of the genesis of the chicken plot, sneaking onto private property with the intent to steal something is burglary. And that something can include chickens.
In the case of the three alleged chicken-pluckers, only Dube had been set for arraignment on Thursday, but state prosecutors have now decided to let the case go. The Free Press reports that State's Attorney T.J. Donovan has "declined to prosecute any of them in criminal court," instead letting UVM's reparative justice system handle them.
Criminal courts have their own versions of these programs for young and first-time offenders, trying to make sure stupid plucking mistakes don't ruin their lives.
Although many animal lovers may wish that killing a chicken was a more serious crime, in Vermont and many other states, it's likely to amount only to animal cruelty. In fact, Vermont's animal cruelty laws might only have threatened the accused chicken-snatchers with up to one year in jail for stealing and killing the frat house's chicken.
UVM Deputy Chief Timothy Bilodeau told the Free Press that he believes stealing an animal that doesn't belong to you and killing it would "satisfy the animal cruelty charge," although he declined to say what the students' motives were for stealing the chicken in the first place.
It seems likely these three freshmen will receive some sort of UVM-sanctioned community service or probation to make amends for allegedly kidnapping and devouring the bird. Maybe even double secret probation.
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