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Tuesday, Nov 6, 2012County: Santa Rosa
Charges: Felony CTA
Defendant/Suspect: Toni A. Phelps
Toni A. Phelps, who left three dogs and three cats to die when her Navarre-area home was foreclosed on in 2012, will serve prison time and 10 years probation for cruelty to animals.
She will also serve 500 hours of community service, undergo a mental health exam and be allowed no contact with animals, a news release from the First Judicial Circuit State Attorney's Office said.
Phelps' decision to plead guilty to the court, as opposed to reaching an agreement with the State Attorneys Office, proved costly, said Assistant State Attorney Jason English, who prosecuted the case.
"She got more than what we were asking for," English said. "The judge structured the sentence so that she'd serve two consecutive five year probations, for a total of 10 years probation."
Judge John Simon ordered the lengthy probation along with a 12.1 month term of incarceration. Because the sentence exceeds one year, Phelps will be sent to a state prison facility to serve it, English said.
According to news accounts of the Nov. 6 2012 discovery, animal remains, feces and fur were found inside the Winding Shore Drive home alongside bags of dog food that had been torn open and consumed. The dogs and cats also ate furniture and garbage as the dogs and cats foraged to stay alive.
Phelps was arrested Nov. 9, 2012 on felony charges of cruelty to animals and misdemeanor charges of animal abandonment and creating a public nuisance.
English said the State Attorneys Office has been seeking "a year and a day" sentences in part to help lessen the circuit's county jails' burden of housing inmates.
Spending even a couple of months in a state prison also carries a "stigma" that may serve as a deterrent to criminal activity, he said.
"I think justice was served," English said.
- NFWDaily News - April 18, 2014
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