Dawn Hamill, owner of Dazzle’s Painted Pastures Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, was found guilty Friday of eight counts of violation of owner’s duties and not guilty on two counts of animal neglect.

It took a jury four hours of deliberations Friday, Sept. 14, to find Dawn Hamill guilty of eight of 10 counts against her in a four-day animal abuse trial.

Hamill, the owner of Dazzle’s Painted Pastures Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, was accused of eight misdemeanor counts of violation of owner’s duties in connection to eight puppies reportedly found in cold, filthy conditions during a Feb. 11, 2011, raid on her property. She was found guilty on those eight counts but the seven-man, five-woman jury found her not guilty on two other counts of animal neglect, stemming from the discovery of a miniature horse and a Himalayan cat found dead on the property during the same raid.

READ: Sheriff’s Officers Remove Animals From Local Shelter

Prosecutors Richard Stake Jr. and Sarah Naughton presented several witnesses for their case, and the defense began its case Thursday in Judge Anna Helen Demacopolous’ courtroom in Markham.

Defense attorney Purav Bhatt said he was disappointed with some of the verdict.

“But the jury deliberated for a considerable amount of time,” he added, “which shows that it was a thoughtful verdict between them. And that’s what juries are for.”

The court clerk delivered the verdict at about 8:30 p.m. Friday, with a courtroom of about a dozen people—family and supporters of Hamill, as well as animal rights advocates.

Some of those advocates had strong words after the Hamill: “I’m so happy about it, that she was found guilty,” said Dina Bernichio.

Hamill’s Testimony

Hamill was the last witness to take the stand, testifying for about three hours Friday morning. She broke down twice on the stand, crying at mentions of Tiny, the miniature horse found dead.

As her employee Dawn Dorian testified the day before, Hamill said Tiny was alive the night before the raid. She said that as a miniature horse he suffered from the genetic effects of dwarfism, but he was a happy animal.

During direct examination, Hamill said the deceased Himalayan cat was one of more than 20 animals that her former employee, Christine Kelly, brought back to the rescue after a trip to Missouri. Hamill said Kelly was fired because she had been told not to bring any more animals to the facility. Along with the cat, Kelly brought back the eight puppies, Hamill testified.

“[Kelly] was fired the week before [the raid] for bringing more animals to the property without permission or room,” Hamill said.


Hamill’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 25 in Room 203 of the Markham Courthouse. The charges she was found guilty of are misdemeanors; it was not immediately clear late Friday what the penalty might be for those charges.

Complete Coverage of the Dawn Hamill Trial:

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