Friday, July 27, 2012

Denise Withee - Nebraska

July 26, 2012:  Convicted dog abuser gets nine years probation

By Sarah Schulz

A convicted animal abuser who had her original probation revoked for violating a judge’s order not to live with dogs has been sentenced to a new, nine-year term of probation.
Denise K. Withee, 49, of Mapleton, Iowa, was convicted by a jury in July 2009 of three counts of felony cruel neglect of animals. She was sentenced by Hall County District Judge William Wright to four years of probation, and was ordered not to own, possess or reside with animals for five years.
On Jan. 12, authorities found 13 dogs in the Iowa home she shared with her mother. She returned to Hall County in March to spend time in jail for the violation and Wright ordered her to the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York for a 90-day diagnostic evaluation.
On Thursday, Withee appeared in court to be resentenced due to the revocation of her original probation.
“We’re going to start over with something,” Wright said.
Withee’s attorney, Deputy Hall County Public Defender Vicki Kenney, asked for consecutive terms of probation in the interest of helping her client and protecting animals. Consecutive terms would allow additional time for the court to supervise Withee. If she is sentenced to prison, she would likely be paroled quickly due to having already served 132 days behind bars and having a minimal criminal history, Kenney said.
“What she needs is supervision and psychological help,” she said.
Kenney said the evaluation done in York didn’t address animal hoarding specifically. Having done some research of her own, she said her client fits the description of an animal hoarder. She is someone who keeps a lot of animals and can’t see that she isn’t properly caring for them. Withee has severe depression and has soothed herself by owning animals that will give her unconditional love. Kenney compared the animal hoarding to a drug addict or an alcoholic taking more of a substance to reach a high...."  More

Apr 26, 2012:  Convicted Dog Hoarder Sent to Prison... For Now

By Steve White

A convicted dog hoarder has been sent to jail by a judge, who saved his most scathing remarks for a prison system he says is not qualified to help her.
For leaving two dozen dogs to die and then violating probation by hoarding more, Denise Withee is going to prison,  but she will be there only 90 days.
Judge William Wright issued a strict order to the women's prison in York, telling them to get to the bottom of Withee's obsession and then he will make a final decision.
Wright expressed frustration with a report prepared by probation officers, pointing to the lack of information about Withee's apparent animal obsession.
"God knows why it's not in the medical records," Wright remarked, his hands to his head.
Wright said it was apparent Withee self-medicated her depression by surrounding herself with animals.
Withee has been on several prescriptions, including paxil, zoloft, prozac, prilosec, blood pressure medication, and has received electroshock therapy.
Wright agree Withee had severe mental problems, but did not qualify for the insanity defense.
He said he could not fashion a probation that protected society and more importantly pets. In a perfect world, the judge said Withee would be placed in an institution.
He condemned the state for eliminating institutions in favor of community based services that he said were under funded.
Wright said he was "left to figure what the devil to do." Probation would leave risks to society, while prison was not equipped to deal with mental illness.
Wright opted for what he called the "third option", sending Withee to prison for 90 days for extensive testing. Wright said his order would force the state to assist with an evaluation specific to her animal hoarding.
After that time, wright said he would make a final determination.
Humane Society officials were pleased with the order, saying it showed the judge was trying to address the root of the problem.
Withee was arrested in 2008 for dumping two dozen dead and dying dogs in a field near Grand Island. She was convicted in 2009 and placed on probation, with the condition she not own animals. But she was recently found with 8 - 13 dogs at her Sioux City area home. Officials said the dogs were in cages and crates and were using a garage as a "litter box."
Knowing she would likely have her probation revoked, Withee checked into a mental hospital for 60 days and then turned herself in to jail, where she has sat since then.
She was scheduled to be re-sentenced, but the judge's order delays final sentencing for 90 days..."  Link & video

Sept 25, 2009:  Convicted Dog Abuser Sentenced to Probation

A dog-dumping Iowa woman is free to go. Denise Withee will not serve time in jail, as a judge sentences her to probation with strings attached.
Denise Withee walked out of court a free woman, with no handcuffs and no jail sentence. That disappointed Humane Society officials who had been involved in the case since they first got a call about 23 dead and dying dogs left in a field.
Central Nebraska Humane Society Executive Director Laurie Dethloff said, "We're disappointed. I don't know what we really expected but with having dealt with the aftermath of it we would've liked to see jail time."
Withee's sentence comes with a lengthy list of conditions. The judge told Withee the key to avoid jail is to not have dogs. Judge William Wright ordered her not to own, posses, or reside with an animal or pet of any kind for the next five years. To make sure she complies, the judge said jail is a possibility, one he will "hold over your head for four years."..." More & video