Case Snapshot
Case ID: 13362
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Attorneys/Judges
Prosecutor(s): Wayne Holmes
Defense(s): Andrew Stine
Judge(s): Kelly McKibben


For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.



Tuesday, Jan 29, 2008

County: Brevard

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Christine Dawn Abrams

Case Updates: 15 update(s) available

A Cocoa woman, who neighbors said loved her dog, abandoned him in a crate for two months and then told investigators she knew it would starve to death. Cocoa police on March 13 arrested Christine Dawn Abrams, 29, on a charge of cruelty to animals in the death of her two-year-old German Shepherd, Ella. She is at the Brevard County Jail and faces a $1,000 bond. Neighbors told police they were concerned that they had not seen Abrams or Ella for several months. "It was unusual for Abrams to be away from her home for any length of time," neighbors said. One neighbor peeked through a window of Abrams' home on Peachtree Street and spotted the dead canine inside a locked metal crate. Police searched for Abrams for five hours and found her at a new address on Parapet Drive, less than six miles from her former residence.

Abrams told detectives that the water had been turned off at the house in January and she had to move. She locked Ella in a crate at the old home because her new roommate did not like dogs. Abrams told the detectives that she knew what would happen if Ella was left without food or water for an extended period of time, the report shows. "Abrams showed no remorse over the dog," the police report shows. Cocoa Police Department spokeswoman Barbara Matthews said "this was a dog that was current on all of his shots. All she had to do was leave the door open." Police added that there was a bag of dry dog food just a few feet from the dog's locked crate.


Case Updates

An appellate panel made no decision today in the case of a Cocoa woman who asked the judges to rule illegal a police search that led to her conviction in connection with the starvation death of her dog.

Circuit Judges J. Preston Silvernail and George Maxwell said they expect to issue a written ruling on Christine Abrams' appeal this week.

It was during a March 2008 search that police found the decomposing remains of Abrams' 1-year-old German shepherd, Ella, locked in a cage.

Abrams, 31, pleaded no contest last year to two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and was sentenced to 12 months of probation, eight of which she was ordered to spend in jail. She was released early last month on good behavior.

Police said Abrams told them that when she moved out of her home because her water had been cut off, she left Ella behind because her new roommate didn't like dogs.

Officers who saw smelled "the odor of death" then spotted flies on the windows and Ella's body inside entered the home without a warrant out of fear that Abrams might be in need of immediate medical attention, prosecutor Michael Raska argued.

But defense lawyer Andrew Stine said the appellate court should throw out Brevard County Judge Kelly McKibben's ruling that police did not violate Abrams' fourth amendment rights when they searched her home without a warrant.

"If there's anything dead inside the house, nothing can help it. The emergency's over," Stine argued. "The thought of a warrant never came into their minds."

Circuit Judge George Turner, who has mentored McKibben during her judgeship, recused himself from today's hearing.
Source: Florida Today - Jul 16, 2009
Update posted on Jul 16, 2009 - 12:43PM 
Christine Abrams, sentenced to eight months in jail for starving her dog to death, was released overnight from the Brevard County Detention Center -- hours earlier than her anticipated release at 8 a.m. today.

Jail officials told FLORIDA TODAY this morning Abrams was released just before midnight Thursday.

Abrams, 31, is still fighting her conviction, court documents indicate.

She is due in court July 15 for a hearing on an appeal of Brevard County Judge Kelly McKibben's ruling that police did not violate Abrams' rights when they searched her home without a warrant in March 2008. It was during the search that police found the decomposing body of Abrams' young three-legged German shepherd, Ella, locked in a cage.

Attempts to contact defense attorney Andrew Stine were unsuccessful.

But records indicate that Stine was in court May 20 seeking a transcript of last year's court proceedings. He is continuing efforts to get evidence he said was illegally seized from Abrams' home thrown out, even though she has already served her jail sentence.

Blaise Trettis -- the Brevard executive assistant public defender who is not involved with the case -- speculated that Abrams wants to avoid the remaining six months of probation and fines imposed by the court.

"If she wins on appeal, it'll be sent back to a new trial," Trettis said.

Abrams was arrested March 12, 2008, after prosecutors said she moved out of her Cocoa home and left Ella in a cage in the living room for several months, with an unopened bag of dog food and a bottle of water only feet away.

According to police, Abrams -- discovered less than a mile away at a friend's home -- said she moved out because her water had been cut off and that she didn't take Ella with her because her new roommate didn't like dogs.

Prosecutors argued that police searched the home fearing Abrams might be in need of immediate medical attention after peering through a window and catching sight of Ella's carcass.

Abrams pleaded no contest to two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and was sentenced to 12 months of probation, eight of which she was ordered to spend in jail. McKibben also sentenced Abrams to 80 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine, plus other court costs. Abrams was banned from owning animals during her probation period.

She had faced up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted at trial.

Abrams entered the jail on Dec. 19 -- meaning her release date would have been on or about Aug. 19 -- because she did not pay 10 percent of a $5,000 bond that would have allowed her to remain free pending her appeal.

Cpl. Roy Foster of the Brevard County Detention Center said Florida law states that inmates automatically earn five days of gain time for every 30 days they serve in jail and can earn extra days for good behavior or if they work.
Source: Florida Today - June 5, 2009
Update posted on Jun 6, 2009 - 9:50PM 
A woman who left her dog to die turned herself in on Friday after failing to pay her bond by a noon deadline.

Christine Abrams was convicted of animal abuse after leaving her German shepherd, Ella, behind when she moved out of her home.

Abrams had to post bond by noon Friday to remain out of jail while awaiting an appeal. She missed the deadline, which means se should turn herself in to police. She was sentenced to eight months in jail earlier this month.

Abrams previously said she is out of work and cannot afford to pay her bail.
Source: WESH - Dec 19, 2008
Update posted on Dec 20, 2008 - 9:30AM 
A woman who plead guilty to leaving her dog to starve to death has been sentenced to eight months behind bars on animal cruelty charges.

In October, Christine Abrams, 30, decided to plead guilty.

Abrams moved out of her Cocoa home and left her German Shepherd, Ella, in a cage without food or water in March.

Abrams reportedly decided to plead guilty after a judge denied her motion seeking to throw out key evidence.

Because of the guilty plea, Abrams did not go to trial. Instead, she entered a plea to the court, which meant the judge had total discretion over the sentence.
Source: News 13 - Dec 4, 2008
Update posted on Dec 4, 2008 - 9:59AM 
Accused dog abuser Christine Abrams will plead to animal cruelty charges Dec. 4 and proceed immediately to sentencing, her lawyer announced in court Tuesday.

That means Abrams, 30, won't go to trial on allegations that she moved out of her Cocoa home and left behind her 1-year-old German shepherd dog, Ella, to starve to death.

Instead, attorneys said Abrams will enter a plea directly to the court, leaving her sentence to the discretion of Brevard County Judge Kelly McKibben. Defense lawyer Andrew Stine did not specify whether Abrams will plead guilty or no contest.

Misdemeanor animal cruelty is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

News of the plea followed the release earlier Tuesday of a 19-page ruling by McKibben. She said police responding to a missing person's report did not err in March when they entered Abrams' home without a warrant after peeking through a window and spotting Ella's decomposing body in a cage.

Stine had argued that evidence seized from Abrams' home should be thrown out because police violated her Fourth Amendment rights by entering without a warrant.

"The court finds that law enforcement did not have time to seek a warrant and they needed to act immediately since there was a likelihood based on the totality of the circumstances that the defendant may have been facing a medical emergency in the residence," McKibben wrote.

"Law enforcement would have been derelict in their duties had they stopped searching once they observed the deceased dog and the disarray in the living room, knowing that they still had no leads on the location or whereabouts of the defendant."

McKibben also denied Stine's motion asking prosecutors for a specific time frame they believe Ella was confined and died because, she said, they've already provided sufficient information.

Stine said he believed that information could bolster a possible theory that someone else was responsible for Ella's death.
Source: Florida Today - Oct 28, 2008
Update posted on Oct 30, 2008 - 12:29AM 
Brevard Judge Kelly McKibben expects to rule by next week on a defense motion to throw out key evidence in the Christine Abrams animal cruelty case.

McKibben made the announcement this morning during a hearing for the Cocoa woman, who is accused of moving out of her home and leaving behind her 1-year-old German shepherd dog, Ella, to starve to death.

Abrams, 30, faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted on two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. She and several animal rights protesters were present in court today.

An attorney filling in for Abrams' lawyer, Andrew Stine of West Palm Beach, said Stine wanted to continue the case pending McKibben's decision on two motions he argued in court last week.

One motion seeks to throw out key evidence because police entered Abrams' home without a warrant, and another asks prosecutors to provide a specific time frame they believe Ella was confined and died.

McKibben said she expects to rule on the motions by the next hearing, a pretrial conference set for 9 a.m. Oct. 28
Source: Florida Today - Oct 20, 2008
Update posted on Oct 20, 2008 - 4:44PM 
The lawyer for a Brevard County woman accused of starving her dog to death says he won't be available for a trial because he's going hunting.

Defense attorney Andrew Stine announced his hunting trip in front of a group of animal rights activists Wednesday.

His client, Christine Abrams, is awaiting trial on misdemeanor animal cruelty charges for abandoning and starving her three-legged German shepherd.

"One theory at trial, and one on appeal, might be that somebody else may have been responsible for the death of this animal," Stine said in court.

The judge hasn't ruled on a motion Wednesday to throw out evidence from the home, because police didn't have a warrant.

No trial date has been set, because the lawyer said he'll be hunting in November and December.
Source: WFTV - Oct 16, 2008
Update posted on Oct 17, 2008 - 12:34AM 
Arguments over a defense motion to throw out key evidence in the Christine Abrams animal-cruelty case will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday in courtroom 3C of the Moore Justice Center in Viera.

Abrams, 30, is accused of moving out of her Cocoa home and leaving behind her German shepherd dog, Ella, to starve to death. She faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted on two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

Defense attorney Andrew Stine says that evidence seized from Abrams' home should be thrown out because police illegally searched the home without a warrant.

Stine and prosecutor Michael Raska are expected to present hundreds of pages of case law Wednesday supporting their positions argued during a six-hour hearing in June.

The case had been stalled since late July pending an unsuccessful bid by the defense to remove Judge Kelly McKibben from the case.
Source: Florida Today - Oct 14, 3008
Update posted on Oct 14, 2008 - 3:37PM 
Judge Kelly McKibben today granted a defense motion to move a hearing scheduled for Thursday in the Christine Abrams animal cruelty case to the next available docket sounding at 9 a.m. Oct. 20, a courthouse spokeswoman said.

Abrams, 30, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in connection with the starvation death of her dog, Ella.

Police in March found the 1-year-old three-legged German shepherd's body in a cage at a Cocoa home authorities said Abrams told them she left several months prior because the water had been cut off.

The case came to a standstill July 29, when Abrams' attorney, Andrew Stine of West Palm Beach, filed an emergency motion asking a circuit judge to remove McKibben from the case over alleged out-of-courtroom communications with a prosecutor about incorrectly filed paperwork.

In asking for the continuance, Stine said he is in trial in Palm Beach County and that the court here has limited jurisdiction over Abrams' case until Circuit Judge Tonya Rainwater rules on his motion, spokeswoman Michelle Kennedy said.
Source: Florida Today - Sept 9, 2008
Update posted on Sep 11, 2008 - 12:24AM 
A hearing in the case of a dog that starved to death after being left behind by its owner was continued on Monday while the defense awaits a decision on an appellate motion to remove the judge from the case.

Attorney Andrew Stine said he filed the emergency motion with the 5th District Court of Appeal Monday morning on behalf of Christine Abrams, 30, who was charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in connection with the starvation death of her German shepherd, Ella.

Judge Kelly McKibben on Thursday signed an order refusing to remove herself from the case. Stine had asked McKibben to step down during a hearing last month, claiming that the judge communicated with a prosecutor about improperly filed paperwork without his knowledge.

The next hearing is set for Sept. 11, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported.
Source: Local 6 News - July 28, 2008
Update posted on Jul 28, 2008 - 10:14AM 
A woman accused of leaving her dog in a crate to die was in court Tuesday afternoon. Christine Abrams is charged with two misdemeanor animal cruelty. About 20 protesters rallied outside the Brevard County courthouse. They lobbied for Abrams to get the maximum punishment of one year in jail.

She is accused of moving and leaving her German shepherd dog, Ella, to starve to death.

Abram's attorney is trying to get all the evidence thrown out before the case goes to trial.

He claims that when police discovered the dead dog, they violated Abrams' Fourth Amendment rights because they were searching without a warrant.
Source: WESH - July 9, 2008
Update posted on Jul 9, 2008 - 4:03PM 
The Brevard County woman accused of leaving her dog to die after moving away from her Cocoa Home is due back in court this afternoon. An evidence hearing is continuing in the case against Christine Abrams. She is facing misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.

Her case has drawn protests from animal lovers and activists. Another demonstration is planned outside the Viera courthouse at 11:30 this morning.
Source: CFnews - July 9, 2008
Update posted on Jul 9, 2008 - 10:10AM 
Friday's hearing in the Christine Abrams fatal dog abandonment case has been canceled, court officials said. A new court date was not immediately available.

Abrams, 30, is accused of moving out of her Cocoa home and leaving behind her young German shepherd dog, Ella, to slowly starve to death.

Charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, Abrams faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted.

A trial date has not been set.

Her attorney argued in court last week that evidence seized from Abrams' home should be tossed out because police searched the home without a warrant a violation of Abrams' Fourth Amendment rights.

The nearly six-hour hearing was to be continued this week at the Moore Justice Center in Viera.

The Independence Day holiday was chosen to accommodate the attorneys' schedules, but was canceled by Chief Judge Clayton Simmons due to budgetary reasons, he said.
Source: Florida Today - June 30, 2008
Update posted on Jun 30, 2008 - 12:36PM 
It will be another week before we find out if a judge will throw out evidence in an animal cruelty case. Investigators said Christine Abrams, 29, moved out of her home, but left her German Shepherd in a crate for two months with no food or water.

During Friday's hearing, animal rights groups demonstrated outside the courthouse, trying to get a judge to give Abrams a stern punishment for what happened to her dog.

A neighbor spotted the dog's body and called for help. However, the defense is trying to convince the judge that that Abrams' home was illegally searched because police didn't have a warrant.

The Humane Society hopes the judge throws out that argument.

Right now, the hearing is scheduled to resume Friday, July 4, in order to give the defense and prosecution time to argue over motions.
Source: CF News - June 28, 2008
Update posted on Jun 28, 2008 - 6:43PM 
Police originally charged Abrams with one count of felony cruelty, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, but prosecutors in the case reduced the charge to a first-degree misdemeanor -- which carries a penalty of only one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Chief Assistant State Attorney Wayne Holmes said the reduced charges take into account the unclear wording of laws set by the state legislature.

He encouraged residents to contact their state representatives and lobby for tougher laws that would make all animal cruelty a felony.
Source: National Enquirer - May 28, 2008
Update posted on May 28, 2008 - 11:42PM 

References

« FL State Animal Cruelty Map
« More cases in Brevard County, FL

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