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Opening arguments to start today in animal cruelty case

Bobbie Taylor

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Taylor

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Hughes

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MOULTON — Former Lawrence County Animal Shelter Director Bobbie Taylor is expected to testify this week in Circuit Court in a case involving animal cruelty charges filed against her more than two years ago, her attorney said.

Tony Hughes, of Florence, said his client is ready to be heard.

“This will be the first time she will be heard in court about these allegations,” Hughes said. “We’re very optimistic the jury will decide in our favor."

The city prosecutor, Callie Waldrep, could not be reached for comment.

Jury selection took place Monday with opening arguments expected to begin at 9 a.m. today. Court records show both sides plan to call several witnesses. Hughes said the case could go into early next week.

At an earlier trial date in Circuit Court, the state was granted a mistrial Sept. 18 following allegations a defense-subpoenaed witness may have discussed the case within earshot of potential jurors.

Circuit Court Judge Mark Craig said then that some of the 55 prospective jurors also may have inadvertently heard members of the media discussing the case.

Taylor, 84, was under contract with Lawrence County as the animal shelter director when Moulton police raided the shelter in June 2015 after complaints of overcrowding and malnourished animals at the shelter.

After her June 2015 arrest, Taylor was released on $17,000 bail and a stipulation she could not have more than 10 cats and dogs in her possession at the same time.

Taylor had an agreement with the Lawrence County Commission to run the shelter on her property on Lawrence County 170. Commissioners terminated the $80,000 annual contract after Moulton police received an abuse complaint days before Taylor's arrest.

She had sheltered the county's strays at her home since 1999. In August 2013, she was paid $15 per animal by the County Commission.

At a December 2016 hearing, Moulton police investigator Damon Morgan said he and police Chief Lyndon McWhorter found cats and dogs living in “horrific conditions” while executing a search warrant June 29, 2015. Morgan testified the animals were cramped, underfed, lying in feces and housed with limited shade from the summer sun.

Taylor has denied all claims and pleaded not guilty to all charges during an arraignment in fall of 2015.

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