ELLIS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – North Texas prosecutors claimed a woman was an animal abuser and hoarder, a jury agreed and now she’s headed to jail.
An Ellis County jury found Michelle Lorraine Lehman guilty on nine counts of animal cruelty.
During Lehman’s five-day trial prosecutors showed photograph, after photograph depicting the environment that more than 80 animals on her property lived in.
Lehman kept 48 dogs and 34 cats in a leased barn on Ovilla Road in Ellis County. The animals were confined in a space with little food or water, inadequate shelter and no physical care.
Many of the animals had open wounds, fleas and parasites on their bodies. Every animal on the property was malnourished. After they were discovered, 67 of the 82 animals found in Lehman’s care had to be euthanized.
The animals were often physically abused. Dogs were left tied up with no access to water. An entire population of unadoptable feral cats was confined in an enclosed area.
Animals that Lehman considered ‘unruly’ were often tied to a post without food or water until they died. The 41-year-old woman would then bury the dead animals behind the barn.
During the trial, Lehman told the jury she would feed the dogs pizza. Prosecutors countered with evidence showing that “pizza” was actually just leftover crusts. Those crusts were mixed with straws, napkins, chicken bones and other trash that Lehman would dump on the dirt floor of the barn, presumably for the animals to eat.
After two weeks of deliberation the jury sentenced Lehman to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine for each of the nine counts.
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