Monday, July 19, 2010

Evidence tossed in Appleton animal abuse case


An Outagamie County judge dealt a severe blow to an animal cruelty case Friday when she ruled prosecutors can’t use 20 cat skeletons as evidence because police illegally searched an Appleton woman’s home.

Judge Nancy Krueger ruled in favor of a motion to suppress evidence in the case against 42-year-old Lorie Kuehl. She's charged with nine criminal counts including five felonies for mistreatment of animals causing death.

The evidence taken from the home represented the bulk of the case. Kuehl’s defense attorney, Michael Petersen, asked for dismissal after Krueger’s ruling, saying prosecutors don’t have enough proof to win convictions.

Krueger said police should have sought a search warrant before entering the Mason Street home. In failing to do so, officers violated Kuehl’s fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

“A warrant could have been obtained with only a few hours delay,” she wrote.

In January, an Appleton health inspector received an anonymous tip claiming dead cats and feces littered Kuehl’s Mason Street home. He set up an appointment with Kuehl and her landlord. Kuehl, who was no longer maintaining the home as her primary residence, didn’t show up.

The inspector and landlord entered the home, and found piles of animal feces, clumps of fur and the skeletal remains of several cats. The inspector summoned police. Investigators entered and discovered the remains of other dead cats, including a garbage bag found with the skeletal remains of multiple animals. They said no water or food were available in the home..." More

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