BARTOW – A Polk City man facing more than 100 animal-abuse charges has pleaded guilty to a single count of leaving pigs and other animals without food or water. In exchange for his plea, 63-year-old Clinton “Butch” Martin was sentenced to the six months he’d already spent in the Polk County Jail.
Martin, who was scheduled to stand trial this week, also has a permanent injunction against him prohibiting him from possessing animals, which played a role in the state’s decision to reach a plea agreement, said Chief Assistant State Attorney Jacob Orr.
Martin faced up to five years in prison if convicted of the felony animal-cruelty charges against him.
He also pleaded guilty to attempted operation of a charitable organization without a license for his role in Darlynn’s Darlins Inc., an animal sanctuary in Polk City, according to his plea agreement. He was sentenced to time served in that case, as well.
Martin and his co-defendant, Darlynn Czerner, 67, were arrested in August 2016 after volunteers with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals video-recorded the severe neglect of animals at Darlynn’s Darlins, owned by Czerner.
The facility was a not-for-profit, no-kill animal rescue, sanctuary, advocacy and education organization, according to the group’s website.
Two representatives from PETA had volunteered during the summer of 2016 and discovered the neglect of 135 hogs, four dogs and a steer, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Video evidence from the sanctuary showed the hogs suffering from tumors, hair loss, overgrown hooves and open sores. Two of the hogs had to be euthanized, according to prosecutors.
In addition to the other animals, Sheriff’s Office animal control officers also seized 43 chickens, seven cats, two ducks, a rabbit and a horse.
Many of the animals had no access to food or water, according to Sheriff’s Office reports.
Czerner was scheduled to stand trial on the allegations against her, but her trial was postponed, according to court documents.
She’s charged with three counts of felony animal cruelty and could face up to five years in prison if she’s convicted.
Orr said a permanent injunction has been placed against Czerner, as well, prohibiting her from possessing animals.
Suzie Schottelkotte can be reached at email@example.com or 863-533-9070. Follow her on Twitter @southpolkscene.