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Guilty verdict in Great Danes case

Union Leader Correspondent

March 12. 2018 9:12PM
Christina Fay reacts to the judge's announcement that as a result of an error on the verdict form given to the jury she was instructing them to redeliberate two of the charges. With Fay is defense team member Attorney Jeremy Cohen. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

Attorney Kent Barker, left, Christina Fay, Attorney James Cowles and Attorney Jeremy Cohen stand as the jury foreman announced the verdicts in Carroll County Superior Court on Monday. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

OSSIPEE — A jury convicted a Wolfeboro woman of 17 counts of animal cruelty on Monday for the treatment of her 75 Great Dane dogs.

Christina Fay, 59, showed no emotion as the verdicts were returned in Carroll County Superior Court.

Each Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine. Sentencing will be scheduled after post-trial motions are handled, Judge Amy Ignatius said.

After the jury was dismissed, the defense told the judge they would be filing a motion to set aside the verdict arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support it. Attorney Kent Barker said he would also file a motion asserting that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

Prosecutor Steven Briden asked that sentencing be held within 30 days.

“Based on the evidence presented at trial we believe the jury reached the correct verdict. Our office will continue to do our utmost to make sure that the animals who are the victims in this case receive justice,” Briden said Monday.

Barker told Judge Ignatius that the defense will argue for some of the dogs that were seized from their client to be returned to her during the sentencing hearing. He additionally asked that the state be required to provide documents to support the restitution requests of $773,877.63 to the Humane Society of the United States; $1,497.11 to Pope Memorial SPCA and $16,335.77 to the Town of Wolfeboro.

Lindsay Hamrick, state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said the animal welfare organization has spent some $1.3 million to care for the dogs since they were seized last June.

“Given the facts of the case and the compelling evidence the state presented, the jury was right to find the defendant guilty of animal cruelty,” Hamrick said. “We are grateful to the Wolfeboro Police Department, prosecutors Steven Briden and Simon Brown, the Conway Area Humane Society and the Pope Memorial SPCA of Concord-Merrimack County for their incredible work and dedication to rescue and seek justice for these gentle giants.

A jury of seven men and five women deliberated for 3 hours and 15 minutes over two days before signaling it had reached a verdict. But after the foreman replied “guilty” to all 17 charges read by a court clerk, the judge announced that there had been a misstep.

The verdict form regarding two charges may have confused the identities of two dogs, prompting the judge to instruct the jury to deliberate again on two of the charges. After breaking for lunch, the jury returned to the courtroom and announced Fay was guilty on those two charges as well.

When Fay was previously found guilty of 10 counts of animal cruelty in December following a circuit-court bench trial — heard by a judge not a jury — she was sentenced to a year in jail, all suspended. She was also ordered to pay $791,000 in restitution.

After that verdict, Judge Charles Greenhalgh permitted Fay to choose one dog, that was to be spayed or neutered, which was to be returned to her. He further ordered that she was to be limited to the ownership of one animal at a time for the rest of her life.

On Feb. 15, a $142,000 judicial lien was recorded at the Carroll County Registry of Deeds, against Fay’s 149 Warren Sands Road home which she owns debt free. If the property is sold before the resolution of the case, the amount of the lien is to be held in escrow by her local defense counsel.

State law states that anyone convicted of animal cruelty who appeals must post a $2,000 bond for each animal that remains in state custody to retain an ownership interest.

Courts Crime Animals Wolfeboro

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