PETA Requests Vegetarian Diet in Jail for Cannibalism Suspect
By KENNETH DEAN
Sheriff's officials were astounded Thursday by a letter requesting the man accused of murdering his girlfriend and possibly participating in cannibalism be placed on a vegetarian diet to keep him from being "involved in any senseless killing" while incarcerated.
The letter was faxed to the Smith County Sheriff's Jail from the national headquarters of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Thursday morning.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph received a copy of the letter before officials and notified Sheriff J.B. Smith.
"You have to be kidding me, right?" was his initial reaction to the news of the letter asking the jail to feed Christopher Lee McCuin, 25, a special vegetarian diet and no meat.
McCuin is jailed for the murder of 21-year-old Jana Shearer and authorities have said, in previous stories, that when McCuin was taken into custody there was an ear boiling in a pot of water on the stove and a plate on the kitchen table with what appeared to be human flesh and a fork.
"It is up to you to prevent McCuin from contributing to any more suffering and death by placing him on a healthy, humane vegetarian diet," the letter by PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich reads.
In a phone interview with the Tyler Paper Thursday, Friedrich responded the letter was serious and was not intended to be funny nor take away from the brutal death suffered by Ms. Shearer.
"Like humans, animals are made of flesh, blood, and bone. They have the same five senses that we do, and they have the same capacity to experience suffering and fear. And all animals share the desire to live their lives free of pain and to avoid a violent death," he said.
Friedrich said his organization hoped to help Smith County prepare a nutritional vegetarian menu and possibly help organize a menu for the entire jail population.
But Smith said that will never happen. "I told (Gary) Pinkerton, the jail administrator, McCuin would be treated like any other prisoner and would be fed like everyone else," he said. "The Texas Jail Commission mandates how we feed the prisoners and if I fed him differently I would violate his rights and PETA is asking me to break the law and I won't do that."
When asked how eating a hamburger compared to cannibalism, Friedrich said all meat is from a corpse. He further stated he believes McCuin could become violent if he ate meat and could kill.
"Only in a culture where people routinely kill and eat living, feeling beings would anyone even think to kill and eat a human loved one," he said.
Smith said that in all of his years as sheriff there has not been one case of cannibalism in his jail, much less cannibalism caused by serving meat to the prisoners.
"Nope, that has never happened," he said. "Besides (McCuin) is isolated so the only person he's going to bite is himself."