UPDATE: The trial has been set for May 23. (Posted April 10.)
A judge has ordered that the cruelty to animals case filed against a Brookfield woman who has, at least temporarily, lost custody of two horses, a dog, a pot-bellied pig, chickens and ducks be set for trial.
Trumbull County Central District Court Judge Thomas Campbell took the action April 4 in response to Trumbull County Animal Welfare League failing to show up for pretrial hearings.
“Note that no representatives from the Animal Welfare League appeared,” Campbell said. “If they don’t appear next time, they’re in danger of having the case dismissed or a pretty ugly civil suit.”
“They haven’t showed up yet,” said George E. Gessner, who represents Lucie M. Thompson, 62, of 7119 Warren Sharon Road. “Nobody shows up for the other side, your honor.”
“That ought to take care of it,” Campbell responded.
Gessner sought a delay at a Feb. 5 hearing, saying there were a number of documents he had to read.
League Executive Director and Corporate Counsel Gary Pilcher, who did not attend the hearing and was contacted later, said the league still is pursuing the case.
“It is often not necessary for our agents to be present,” Pilcher said of court hearings. “Sometimes they are told by the prosecutor that they are not needed, for various reasons.”
No prosecutors attended the hearing.
Gessner said Thompson is concerned about the health of her animals, and he was hoping to learn more about them.
“We’d at least like to know the location of these animals, particularly her dog,” Gessner said. “These are not newly acquired. She’s had them for years.”
Pilcher previously said the animals were being held at league expense at a number of locations.
The animals were seized by Campbell’s order on Nov. 17 and 20 following complaints from passers-by, and the case has generated extensive public interest. Thompson supporters and detractors have taken to social media in an often nasty trial by public opinion.
The warrant authorizing the animals’ removal stated that “the condition of these animals and the living area which they are being provided along with the fact of insufficient water being provided mandates removal from this property.”
The animals were housed together in a 12-by-12 pen with no roof, although sheet plastic was pulled over top of it at some point.
Thompson said the animals were healthy and she was planning to build a larger living space for them. She is fighting the charges, and her son, Roger Galford, has called the removal “theft.”
No trial date has been set.