The New York man charged with breaking into the Conway office of Stephens Inc. during an animal-rights protest earlier this year has been found guilty of three misdemeanor offenses and sentenced to 45 days in jail.
Bryan W. Pease, 24, of Liverpool, N.Y., was arrested in January and charged with felony commercial burglary, third-degree felony battery enhanced by engaging in a violent criminal group activity. He was also charged with criminal mischief, resisting arrest and fleeing, all misdemeanors.
He was among a handful of animal-rights protesters who allegedly broke the back door of the Stephens office on Chestnut Street, entered the office and began kicking employees and breaking things, according to police.
The protesters were members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, who wanted proof that Stephens is no longer financially connected to Huntingdon Life Sciences, one of the largest animal-testing laboratories in the world.
The jury in Pease's case came back undecided twice but finally returned with a verdict about 9 p.m. on Tuesday. They found him not guilty of the battery charge and a criminal mischief charge, lessened the commercial burglary charge to misdemeanor criminal trespassing, and found him guilty of resisting arrest and fleeing.
Circuit Judge Michael Maggio sentenced Pease to 45 days in jail, $1,100 in fines and $250 in restitution. His jail time will be served in the Faulkner County Detention Center, where he was taken following his sentencing.
Pease requested he be allowed to return to New York to get his affairs in order before being placed in jail, but Deputy Prosecutor David Clark argued against that. Clark pointed out that if Pease were allowed to go to New York and then did not return to Arkansas, authorities would not have extradition powers because the offenses are misdemeanors.
Maggio agreed with Clark, and Pease was taken to the jail.
(Staff writer Samantha Huseas can be reached by phone at 505-1253 or e-mail at email@example.com)