Case Snapshot
Case ID: 3544
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull)
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Tuesday, Jun 29, 2004

County: Teton

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Robert Lee Hill

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Authorities say Robert Lee Hill was supposed to care for his deceased mother's dog and cats. Hattie Anderson was hospitalized June 15 and her house was condemned as unlivable, with feces and urine from more than a dozen cats and a dog strewn among the clutter.

Officials say her son, Robert Lee Hill, agreed to catch the cats for Animal Control officers and care for her beloved Chihuahua. But he caged some pets without water, causing the dog and a cat to die in the summer heat.

A jury found Hill guilty of malicious animal killing in the death of the dog on Jan 6, but not guilty on four other counts relating to the cats. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

Hill implied the dog died of old age and blamed Jackson County Animal Control for the cats, saying he left more than 30 phone messages but no one responded.

Testimony by prosecution and defense witnesses was like night and day regarding what occurred between June 15 and 29, when Animal Control and police officers recovered five caged animals from the S. Milwaukee Street home.

A veterinarian, Dr. Kerry McKinney, said the Chihuahua was a young adult female that died of dehydration. The vet said a Siamese kitten died of starvation and dehydration.

Hill and a friend, Myron Smith, testified the dog was a 16-year-old male -- extremely old for any dog breed. Hill said the dog quit eating and drinking; officers said he just didn't feed or water it.

Animal Control officers Kathlyn Chapin and Mark Abbott testified the dead dog's cage contained feces, urine, pieces of dry hot dog and an empty pudding cup. The dog appeared to have died days before.

"I asked why he didn't take the dog to his house, and he said, 'I don't want no damn dog,' " Chapin testified. "I asked, 'Did you at least let the dog out of its carrier?' He said, 'Why would I let the damn dog out of its carrier?' "

The officers tried to catch cats in the home on June 15, but the animals were frightened and could hide in dozens of places. The house was stuffed with furniture and various items, Abbott said. They caught one cat.

Hill testified officers quit chasing cats after a brief hunt because the smell made them sick.

Officers said Hill agreed to catch the cats and take the dog to his house. Anderson signed over the cats to Animal Control -- a fact that indicated the felines were not Hill's responsibility, defense attorney Wendell Jacobs argued.

Abbott said he did not hear from Hill within two weeks, so he checked on him, leading to the discovery of the caged animals on a locked porch. Officers broke into the house when they couldn't locate Hill.

Hill said he caught five cats in the house and let them loose outdoors, and that on the morning of June 29 he caught four more cats and put them in cages on the porch. The dog was alive the night before but was dead when he visited June 29, he said.

Of the four cats taken alive to the shelter, a kitten died the next day.

The carriers were soaked in urine and feces, and the cats had not been fed or watered, Animal Control officers said.

Hill said he called the agency two or three times a day for two weeks after his mother's house was condemned.

He said he got voice mail every time and left his name and address.

Paula Adams, a clerk at the shelter, said phone records do not show Hill leaving one message in that time. There was one anonymous message on June 23 regarding "picking up stray cats" at 1709 S. Milwaukee St., she said.

Hill's friends said he is good to animals.

"Whether it was squirrels, cats, dogs ! he'd feed them from his porch," Hill's neighbor, Mimi Weekly, testified. She, too, said she called Animal Control and left a message.

Hill said he tried to take his mother's dog to his house nearby on June 14, but the dog cried and fretted, so he took it back home and kept it in a small carrier to protect it from about a dozen cats. He said he fed it tuna and hot dogs, but it would eat only red Jell-O and would not drink.

Miller asked why he didn't seek veterinary care for the dog.

"I don't have money to take a dog to a vet," he said.


Case Updates

A Jackson man whose ailing mother's pets died in his care last summer was ordered Wednesday to perform community service rather than go to jail. A jury last month found Robert Lee Hill, 60, guilty of malicious animal killing in the death of a Chihuahua confined to a carrier in the heat of summer without water.

"Considering your age, your health and the fact you provide service for your elderly mother, I am not sending you to jail," Circuit Judge Chad Schmucker said.

He ordered Hill to perform 40 hours of community service per month for six months. Hill cannot own a pet or care for animals in that time.

Hill's mother, Hattie Anderson, was hospitalized June 15 and her house at 1709 S. Milwaukee St. was condemned.

The house was cluttered, dirty and contained about a dozen cats and dogs.

Jackson County Animal Control officials said Hill agreed to catch the animals for transfer to the animal shelter. He lives near his mother's home at 206 E. Euclid Ave.

Hill testified he caught some of them and caged them, but no one ever answered his calls to the shelter.

He said he left 30 phone messages for officers to come for the animals; shelter workers said there was no proof he left even one message.

About two weeks after Hill agreed to catch the pets, Animal Control officers returned to his mother's house to find the Chihuahua dead and a kitten dying.

Four other cats were in carriers, hungry and covered with feces and urine. A veterinarian said necropsies revealed the kitten and dog died of dehydration and starvation.

Defense attorney Jerry Engle argued against jail time, saying the charge should not be a felony. The probation department recommended 90 days in jail.
Source: Jackson Citizen Patriot - Feb 10, 2005
Update posted on Feb 10, 2005 - 10:55PM 

References

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