Friday, November 21, 2008

Judge says couple charged with dogfighting not guilty

Citizen Staff Report

An Avra Valley couple charged with dog fighting were acquitted by Pima County Superior Court Judge John S. Leonardo Thursday after county prosecutors rested their case.

Mahlon Thatcher Patrick and Emily Elizabeth Dennis, both 64, were charged with two counts of dogfighting and 21 counts of animal cruelty.

Defense attorneys did not present a case and instead claimed the county had not proved its case. The trial was a "bench" trial in which their is no jury.

In February, officials from the Pima Animal Care Center and Pima County Sheriff's Department, along with southern Arizona and national representatives from the Humane Society converged on four sites where 150 dogs were seized, the Citizen previously reported.

In addition to Patrick and Dennis, deputies arrested Robert Clayton Smith, 56; Terry Lee Williams, 53; Juan Rudolfo Verdin, 40; and Zenaida Yvonne Verdin, 40.

Juan Verdin recently pleaded guilty to attempted dogfighting and his wife Zenaida, pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals. Leonardo is set to sentence them Nov. 26.

Smith and Williams are scheduled for a jury trial in February before Judge Michael J. Cruikshank.

Check back for details.

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