On Wednesday afternoon in a North Carolina courtroom, defense lawyers for two animal-cruelty defendants asked a judge to dismiss dozens of criminal charges. The judge was unimpressed. The defendants, former — or perhaps still — employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), stand accused of killing adoptable dogs and cats in the back of a van in 2005 and discarding their bodies in a trash dumpster. While the saga continues to drag on without a firm trial date, it’s now settled that defendants Adria Hinkle and Andrew Cook will indeed face felony charges that carry lengthy jail sentences.

In Greenville, WNCT-TV’s Laila Muhammad reported that the detective who arrested Hinkle and Cook testified that in addition to dead animals, a search of the PETA van turned up “a digital camera with pictures of living and dead animals and vials of substances later determined to be drugs used to euthanize animals.” [click here to watch a video of the WNCT report]

In addition to felony-level cruelty to animals charges, these two “people for the ethical treatment of animals” are charged with obtaining property by false pretenses. According to an employee of a North Carolina veterinarian, Hinkle and Cook promised to find suitable homes for three kittens, but killed them just hours later without even bringing them back to PETA’s Virginia headquarters.

For more background information about this disturbing case, visit www.PetaKillsAnimals.com. In addition to photos of PETA’s furry victims (and the “death kit” tackle box they allegedly used), you can see government reports filed by PETA describing the 14,419 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens the group has admitted killing since July 1998.