Casper Woman Found Guilty of Multiple Animal Cruelty Charges
The Casper Municipal Court judge on Tuesday found a woman guilty of dozens of misdemeanor counts related to the sickly and filth-covered animals that were seized from her home in July.
Deanne Gray was convicted of 64 counts of animal cruelty, 13 counts of not property removing dead animals, and one count of failing to properly dispose of animal waste, Judge Cally Lund said at the end of the two-hour bench trial.
Lund had rescheduled the trial from Sept. 16 after Gray was not prepared and did not not have an attorney.
Tuesday, she still didn't have an attorney, although a man who said he was a paralegal was with her.
Assistant City Attorney Zak Szekely told him that he was not allowed to give legal advice to Gray.
When asked by Lund, Gray said she was ready to proceed even though she was representing herself and had no witnesses or evidence.
In his opening statement, Szekely recounted how a Metro Animal Control officer responded to her house in the 1200 block of West 23rd Street in July, found multiple animals that were malnourished, sickly and living in their own excrement. "The smell was nauseating."
When a search warrant was executed, nearly the entire Metro staff came to the house as did half the on-duty Casper police officers, many of whom had to wear hazmats suits when they retrieved the animals from the house, he said.
She interrupted him, saying that the numbers of certain breeds he cited were incorrect.
Szekely objected, and Lund asked Gray what evidence she had.
She responded that she was disabled, took good care of the dogs and wondered why all the law enforcement officers were at her house. "I don't know why they decided to attack my property."
Szekely called a number of witnesses including one who had to spend $1,400 for medical bills for a dog she adopted.
Another witness said he adopted one of the papillons, but within a day it became lethargic because of an infection and had to be euthanized.
Metro officer Michelle Peters, who also adopted a papillon, cried when she started her testimony.
Szekely showed her scores of pictures of the interior of the house, and Peters described the scene.
Peters recounted her years of experience dealing with animals in bad situations, but nothing like this. "It was the most horrible example I've ever seen."
The dogs were purebred and used for breeding, and Gray confirmed that with her, she said.
Everything was coated with feces, and the carpet squished because of the urine in it, Peters added. "I had to take a break and sit outside for a while."
Metro Animal Control manager Tory Walsh said the shelter was already full with 180 animals when it had to take on 65 suddenly that day. Most were adopted.
Another Metro officer said the windows in Gray's house were closed, there were a couple of fans running, but little ventilation on a day with temperatures in the upper 90s.
That officer also described how she had to get dead animals that were in bags in coolers and a freezer including some that were decomposed to the point of being unrecognizable and a young dog with a hole in its head.
After Szekely rested his case, Gray told Lund that she had no witnesses.
The judge repeatedly asked her if she wanted to testify, which would have meant her waiving her right to remain silent.
Gray said she didn't understand the process. "I think I'll just go away."
Lund asked what that meant, to which Gray responded, "I don't know what good it would do."
After a 10-minute recess, Gray said she guessed she might testify, and Lund responded that she can't guess.
Gray decided to not testify.
Lund reprimanded Gray, telling her that she wanted her to get an attorney after delaying the first trial. Gray responded that she called a couple of attorneys
After that, Lund said she found Gray guilty of 78 of the original 81 counts. She found her not guilty of three counts of not properly disposing of dead animals.
Lund said Gray's sentencing will be in three weeks.