Great Danes to stay put

  • Published in Local News

Judge says Christina Fay must wait for trial result

By DAYMOND STEER, CONWAY DAILY SUN

OSSIPEE — Despite a hearing in which Christina Fay, the Wolfeboro woman charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty, sought to get her dogs back, that won't happen before her trial, Circuit Judge Charles Greenhalgh has ruled.

In June, police and members of the Humane Society of the United States seized 84 Great Dane dogs from locations in Wolfeboro and Bartlett. The Conway Area Humane Society received another nine prior to the seizure.

Fay, 59, was initially charged with two misdemeanor counts of animal neglect for allegedly keeping the Wolfeboro dogs in squalid conditions and denying them adequate food and drink.

Twelve additional charges, alleging similar conduct, were filed earlier this month and two charges have been dropped making a total of 12 current charges.

Fay faces trial on Oct. 16 in Ossipee's circuit court.

On Oct. 3, in Ossipee's circuit court, Greenhalgh heard a variety of motions from Fay's attorneys, Kent Barker and Winer and Bennett in Nashua and James Cowles of Walker and Varney of Wolfeboro.

On Tuesday afternoon, Greenhalgh's rulings, made last Friday, were distributed to the press by the Judicial Branch's Communication's Manager Carole Alfano.

Greenhalgh's notice of decision ordered that the dogs will not be rehomed, as Fay had requested. At present, most of the dogs are being held at a secret location by the HSUS. Others have been adopted or are in the care of Conway's Humane Society.

"To release the dogs to Fay and various others now would require further transportation of them and, perhaps, their confiscation, once again, if Fay is convicted," said Greenhalgh.

"This would create an unnecessary burden and a logistical nightmare for both the State and this Court. Accordingly, the dogs will not be released from state custody."

Fay through her attorneys also made motions to quash the 12 charges and to request more details about them, through legal documents called bills of particulars, while the prosecution maintained the charges are sufficient.

Greenhalgh said he sided with the prosecution.

"Each of the complaints filed by the State contain sufficient detail to allow the defendant to prepare for trial," said Greenhalgh. "As the Court has determined that the complaints are adequate, no bill of particulars is required."

Fay asked for the return of her property to include documents relating to the dogs. The judge said that the state can keep materials related to the trial but other items not related to the trial shall be returned.

Greenhalgh already ordered that all documents seized should be available to the defense for "review and copying."

The judge also denied the defense's motion to suppress the search warrant.

In the search warrant, police officer Michael Strauch alleged that the dog's living area was covered in feces and urine, that dogs were fed spoiled food, dogs didn't have enough water, some dogs appeared underweight, dogs suffered injuries and medical problems, and also that some dogs had died from neglect.

The defense argued that the warrant was insufficient in part because the officer didn't do enough to verify what a couple of witnesses told him.

"Although Strauch did not attempt to discuss or confirm the witness accounts with Fay herself, he did go to her home and made observations regarding the condition in which the dogs were kept," said Greenhalgh. "The affidavit must contain sufficient information, not complete information, to establish probable cause."

On Oct. 3, the prosecution withdrew a motion regarding fines on dogs, and Barker and Cowles asked for attorneys' fees to cover their costs in that part of the case. Greenhalgh denied that request without elaborating.

Greenhalgh did grant Fay's motion for discovery and said that all documents requested by the defense should be available for copying. The prosecution should make other information requested by the defense available at least five days before trial.