Animal cruelty charges dropped

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; District Attorney John Johnson dropped the animal cruelty charges against Debbie Palmer Wednesday, but it&8217;s not over yet.

&8220;I intend to re-file and make a complete investigation and then I&8217;m going to take over the prosecution myself,&8221; Johnson said. &8220;I want a give the judge a good case and something he can stand on and feel good about.&8221;

Palmer, arrested in February on cruelty to animal charges, was to be tried Thursday. Johnson said he dismissed all charges that exist at this time. The trial will begin at a later date.

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Seventh District Judge Leo Boothe presides in the case and granted the motion after no objections from the Palmer&8217;s attorney, Paul Lemke were received. Booth ordered the sheriff&8217;s department to constantly supervise the well being of the horses until the case is resolved.

&8220;The courts main concern is that the horses are cared for and the fences are maintained,&8221; Boothe said.

On April 12, Boothe found Palmer guilty on three charges of animals at large involving incidents on U.S. 65/84 &8212; one of which ended with an SUV hitting and killing a horse on Jan. 8 &8212; and on Louisiana 3219. Three other counts were found not to fit the statute they were prosecuted under and dismissed.

Today&8217;s trial dismissed 10 charges of animal cruelty and one charge of simple criminal damage to property. Concordia Animal Welfare animal control officers served Palmer, 930 Eagle Road in Vidalia, a warrant in early April. She spent one night in jail as a result of the warrant arrest.

Following warrants officers removed some of Palmer&8217;s approximately 50 horses from her care. In May, Boothe ordered the horses to be seized from her to be returned pending the outcome of a May 24 hearing.

The statute under which Palmer was convicted in the first three charges does not call for jail time, making a fine and or community service a likely penalty. More charges are expected to arise during the investigation, Johnson said.

&8220;There is definitely a pattern for abuse here and I&8217;m going to look at it,&8221; he said.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry will now be asked to lead an investigation into the matter, Johnson said. Joey Norman will lead the special investigation, he said.