Couple pleads guilty on animal cruelty charges

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By Patrick Yost editor A Morgan County couple, initially arrested on March 14, 2013, pled guilty on Monday to both aggravated cruelty to animals and cruelty to animals in the death of three Labradoodle dogs on the couple’s Enterprise Road property. According to Morgan County Superior Court records, Benjamin Clay Porter III, 44, Madison pled guilty to four felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. Porter was sentenced to four years probation on each count to run concurrent. He was also fined $1,000 and banned by the court from breeding or selling dogs.

His wife, Mary Shannon Porter, 44, Madison pled guilty to three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. Mary Shannon Porter received one year probation on each count to run consecutive. She was also fined $1,000 and banned from breeding or selling dogs. The sentencing came before Superior Court Judge Brenda H. Trammell. The couple was initially indicted by a Morgan County Grand Jury on three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and three counts of cruelty to animals. The charges stemmed from three Labradoodle dogs found on the couple’s former property that were, records allege, malnourished, tied together and then tied to a picnic table before they were killed by either a gun shot to the head or blunt force trauma to the head. The indictment read that the charge is based on “… seriously disfiguring said animal(s) by inflicting fractures and trauma suggestive of a gun shot wound and penetrating injuries to the head and neck of said animal(s).”

The Porters, the indictment alleged “… did then and there unlawfully cause unjustifiable physical pain and suffering to an animal by an omission, to wit, failing to provide food and water to said animal(s).” In the March, 2013 arrest warrant allegations include that “the dogs had ben tied around the neck individually and all three were tied together, with all three tied to a picnic table in the back ear and all appeared to have been struck in the head… the dogs appeared to be malnourished, and no food or water was found in the area…” The Porters initially pled not guilty to the charges on June 18, 2013.

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