A Wayne County man could go to jail for 18 months for illegally slaughtering hogs ... 990 of them.
Jecky Hershberger, 46, slaughtered the pork on his farm at a fraction of the cost people would pay a larger slaughterhouse. The problem is that Hershberger and his farm are not licensed or inspected for that. Hershberger, who is Amish, opted against legal representation, and agreed to plead no contest to some of the charges.
Sentencing is Thursday. Since Hershberger's church frowns upon getting a lawyer involved, long-time family friend Peter Dunn became an advocate for Hershberger. He expanded that role to get others involved by showing up in person in and around the courthouse for the 1:15 P.M. hearing.
Dunn won't call it a protest, just a way to show support and to silently call for changes in the law.
"We're not asking for mercy for what he did," said Hershberger. "Whether knowingly or otherwise, he did break the law. We are asking that these types of laws are amended for future cases."
Dunn says the practice of unregulated slaughters is "relatively widespread," partially because there is plenty of demand from people who don't want meat processed at a larger factory-type plant.
"There are still a lot of issues with those types of operations and we think private people like Jecky should be able to offer their services to the consumer," said Hershberger.
Demand may have been particularly high for Hershberger, possibly putting a target on his back for the Ohio Department of Agriculture. He charged only $10, but added another $2 if he had to go purchase the animal, then haul it back to be slaughtered.
Dunn asks that anyone who shows up at the courthouse Thursday remain silent and avoid bringing signs. It could be crowded, too. Dunn says he's expecting a lot of people from the Amish community to attend, but there's been a lot of talk about the issue outside of there, namely through Facebook. Dunn's last post was shared more than 400 times.