PRINCETON: Two separate charges of animal cruelty

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A Princeton resident and a Trenton resident were charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty last month for injuries to an elderly pit bull and a four-month-old kitten.

James Lapko, 41, of Locust Lane, was charged with four counts of animal cruelty after he was observed dragging his elderly dog on a lease on the sidewalk in Community Park South at 4:10 p.m. on April 26, said Mark Johnson, animal control officer.

The Township resident’s more than 15-year-old pit bull sustained bruised ribs, fluid in his lungs, severe abrasions on most his body and rope burns around his neck, said Mr. Johnson.

The dog was not registered for 2012, but it was for last year, said Mr. Johnson.

 The animal was taken from Mr. Lapko, and is at SAVE shelter in Princeton. His condition is very poor, said Mr. Johnson.”This dog is in really bad shape,” he said.

Mr. Lapko pleaded not guilty in court on May 1 and requested a public defender.

Earlier in the month a Trenton woman had charges levied against her for abusing a kitten.

Wanda Diaz, 31, of Trenton, was charged with three counts of animal cruelty on April 10, after bringing the severely injured animal to SAVE on Herrontown Road.

”She brought a cat from Trenton to Princeton to SAVE, stating she found the cat on Birch Avenue,” said Mr. Johnson. “The cat had third degree burns and lost three quarters of both ears and a severe concussion.”

Through an investigation, animal control determined the animal was her cat and she crafted a fictitious story about the injuries to the animal.

”She is denying involvement with the cat,” said Mr. Johnson.

Ms. Diaz is charged with two counts of animal cruelty, which is a disorderly person’s offense. She could face up to a $1,000 fine, up to 30 days in jail or community service, if she is found guilty.

Ms. Diaz pleaded not guilty in her first court appearance May 1 and requested a public defender.

The four-month-old kitten, which will almost earless for the rest of its life and has a twitch from the concussion, is on the mend at SAVE, said Mr. Johnson.

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Man Charged With 43 Counts Of Animal Cruelty

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MUNCIE, Ind. — A Muncie man faces 43 criminal charges after police seized 25 pit bulls from an alleged dog-fighting training facility.

Rahsaan Johnson

Delaware County prosecutors accused Rahsaan Johnson, 36, of promoting animal-fighting contests or engaging in animal cruelty. Thirty-four of the 43 counts filed Friday are felonies.

Police officers and animal shelter workers removed the pit bulls from a squalid mobile home during a late March raid in which they found some dogs in crates and others chained outdoors.

An affidavit said U.S. Customs agents told police Johnson had picked up two of the pit bulls shipped in from the Dominican Republic at Indianapolis International Airport only days before the raid.

Johnson’s initial hearing was scheduled for Wednesday. He remains jailed on a $251,000 bond.

News Link:-TheIndiChanel

Twins Found Not Guilty In Dog Burning Retrial

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Pheonix died several days later

BALTIMORE — Prosecutors in the retrial of twins facing a number of animal cruelty charges said the evidence in the case was overwhelming.

Yet, once again, the twins beat the charges. 11 News reporter Lowell Melser said it took the jury less than an hour to reach a not guilty verdict.

Retrial juror No. 2 told Melser, “It is what it is. You can only go by what you see. Can’t go by what someone says. In a court of law, it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.”

Brothers Travers and Tremayne Johnson faced charges a second time after the jury in the first trial last year became hopelessly deadlocked.

On Wednesday, aunts of the Johnson brothers expressed their joy outside the Mitchell courthouse. “They lied, and they lied. They just wanted a victim. They lied and they wasted taxpayer money,” said a one of the aunts

As relatives cheered, animal welfare advocates said they were disappointed in the verdict but believe the case has brought more awareness to the abuse of animals.

“People are reporting cases now. The police department is investigating them, and the state’s attorney’s office is prosecuting them. So, we have seen a change since her case started,” said Jennifer Brause, the executive director of the Baltimore Animal and Rescue Care Shelter.

“Justice denied does not mean something good does not come of something,” said Ann Gearhart of the Snyder Foundation for Animals. “The jury last time was incredibly different from this jury. The atmosphere at this trial was like a circus that did not lend itself to justice.”

Prosecutors said that in late May 2009, the then 17-year-old brothers set a 2-year-old pit bull, later named Phoenix, on fire with a flammable liquid.

 Phoenix died several days later.

Surveillance video and two witness accounts linked them to the crime scene. There was also a shirt one of the brothers wore in the video that was the same one worn when he was arrested.

Defense attorneys for the Johnson brothers presented a much different picture, said Melser. They claimed their clients were innocent and that they conveniently satisfied public demand for an arrest. Charles Johnson, the father of the twins, said the prosecutors were “not right.”

Defense attorneys also said the video never showed the brothers setting Phoenix on fire, and that the city botched the crime scene from the very beginning by not deciding to launch a criminal investigation until six days after the crime.

Camille Mills, a cousin of the twins said, “There was no evidence that put them at the scene. There was nothing proven today — no testimony from witnesses or professional people. No one.”

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein released a statement that said: “While I respect the jurors’ decision, I am disappointed that we did not achieve the outcome that we fought for during two challenging trials.”

Tremayne Johnson should be released from custody sometime Wednesday. Travers will remain in jail to face attempted murder charges.

Baltimore Humane Society Executive Director Jen Swanson released a statement regarding the verdict Thursday, saying, “The Baltimore Humane Society is heartbroken to hear of the acquittal. … We have been following this case very closely. Unfortunately, justice did not prevail once again for Phoenix, an innocent creature who was cruelly tortured, maimed, and eventually killed by the horrific act of being doused in accelerant and set alight.”

Swanson also thanked police, the state’s attorney’s office and animal welfare activists for their support during the trial.

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