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Puppy mill defendant makes court appearance

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Terri L. Smith made her first court appearance Monday, Jan. 9, since being arraigned on 218 counts of second-degree animal abuse stemming from the Dec. 12 puppy mill/animal hoarding bust at her home in rural Campbellsburg.

Judge Diane Wheeler gave Henry County Attorney Virginia Harrod until Feb. 6 to respond to a request for discovery, filed by Smith’s attorney, George R. Carter, of Louisville, and scheduled the next pretrial hearing for Feb. 20.

In the order, Wheeler agrees to Carter’s requests for information from the Commonwealth, including copies of all written or recorded statements or confessions made by Smith that exist or may come as the case continues, as well as copies of all reports of physical or mental examinations or tests made in connection with the case. These include reports, photographs, slides, specimens and objects relating to the examination of the animals involved and reports of tests on items and animals seized during the search of Smith’s Allyson Road premises.

Harrod also must provide copies of photographs of the crime scene and the animals seized, as well as a list of people with knowledge of the case who have been interviewed by the police or others from the Commonwealth.

The defense also requested copies of any statements implicating Smith made by anyone else charged in the case, even if the person is not called as a witness, as well as any evidence regarding Smith that would be favorable to her on the issues of guilt, sentencing or the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses.

During the brief hearing, Harrod asked if Smith would release the animals confiscated in the raid to the county.

According to the criminal complaint against Smith filed Dec. 14 by Henry County Animal Control Officer Dan Flinkfelt, the county confiscated three birds, a gerbil, seven hamsters, three geese, 12 guinea pigs, 54 rabbits, 114 dogs, 13 cats and nine horses, as well as an owl and a hybrid wolf.

At this point, all of the animals are being cared for in foster homes or by animal rescue groups in the region. If Smith chooses to release ownership of the animals, the county can proceed to find permanent homes for all of the animals.

Carter replied that he intends to submit to Harrod a list of animals Smith wishes to keep.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Harrod said she does not favor returning any of the animals to Smith. “Obviously, she’s not able to care for them, so it would be perpetrating another crime,” she said.

Harrod said she plans to prosecute Smith to the full extent of the law, and to seek restitution to the county for the cost of veterinary care, as well as monetary penalties to the Commonwealth.

When asked if she would consider a plea bargain that might reduce jail time Smith would receive, if found guilty, Harrod said, “No, ma’am.”

Under Kentucky statutes, Smith faces up to 12 months in prison and a $500 fine on each of the 218 counts of cruelty.

Her husband, Kenneth H. Smith, 71, faced the same number of charges, however, he committed suicide at the Allyson Lane property shortly after he bonded out of the Carroll County Detention Center on Dec. 17.

A tenant living in the trailer, Karen Nellums, 48, was cited with 10 counts of animal cruelty as well, stemming from the condition of animals on the property she claimed to be her own pets. A total of 17 dogs and three cats shared her rooms in the trailer, officials said.

She is also scheduled to appear in Henry County District Court for a pretrial hearing on Feb. 20.