Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kennel-owner trial judge reveals doubts about felony charges

By John Maguire. Lincoln County News

WISCASSET -- The judge presiding over a Somerville kennel owner's animal cruelty trial twice expressed doubt Friday about whether the state had proved felony charges.

"At this point, I would grant acquittal on the felony counts," Justice Andrew Horton said Friday after 21/2 days of testimony in the nonjury trial. "I think the state's case is dubious on those five charges."

Kennel owner Fern Clark, 79, faces five aggravated animal cruelty charges alleging she exhibited "a depraved indifference to animal life or suffering."

Horton denied defense attorney Andrews Campbell's request for acquittal, saying the prosecutor had provided enough evidence to convict Clark of all 16 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty...  More

May 6, 2009: Felony Charges In Animal Abuse Case Scrutinized

The burden of proof still lies with the State as to whether an elderly Somerville resident acted with depraved indifference in the treatment of the animals that at one time crowded into her home...

The State seized 66 dogs, a handful of cats and one bird from the home of Fern Clark in Somerville on Jan. 19, 2008.

Following the third day of testimony in a May 1 bench trial, Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton made no decisions regarding the fate of Clark, 79, who faces five felony charges and 16 misdemeanor charges for cruelty to animals. Attorneys may make their closing arguments either later this month or at some point in June, after which Horton will make a decision...

April 28, 2009: Vet describes animals’ recovery from ‘horrific’ home environment

By Betty Adams, Kennebec Journal

WISCASSET — Most of the animals seized in January 2008 from a Somerville kennel run by Fern Clark are enjoying better health now, a state veterinarian testified Monday at Clark’s trial.

Dr. Christine Fraser, a veterinarian for the state Animal Welfare Program, testified that with surgery, pain medication, good dental care and proper nourishment, most of the 66 dogs and four cats are doing well after being taken from Clark when the state executed a search warrant at her kennel Jan. 19, 2008…

She has maintained her innocence, saying she loves animals and has raised them for 35 years…

Fraser testified about the medical conditions afflicting the five animals that are at the root of five felony charges of aggravated cruelty to animals.

Assistant District Attorney Andrew Wright showed a number of photos of the live animals — at the time of the raid and today.

He also showed photos from the necropsy — an animal autopsy — of the two dead dogs whose bodies were removed from a freezer in Clark’s kitchen… More

LCN file photo