MOULTON — Bobbie Taylor, confident and detailed when responding to questions from her own lawyer, was more guarded Tuesday when the prosecutor asked her to recall details of her tenure as the county’s animal shelter director.
Taylor is on trial in Lawrence County Circuit Court facing 15 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty stemming from a raid by Moulton police on June 29, 2015.
Lawrence County Assistant District Attorney Callie Waldrep attacked Taylor’s testimony on finances, her nonprofit status, adoption record and her care of the more than 300 animals in the shelter she was operating for the Lawrence County Commission.
After four and half hours of testimony Tuesday morning, both sides rested and Circuit Judge Mark Craig told the jurors they would not hear any more evidence in the case. The jury, including two alternates, is made of up of eight men and six women.
Closing arguments are set to begin today at 8:30 a.m.
While answering defense attorney Tony Hughes’ questions, Taylor testified one black and white dog she called “Grandpa” was her personal pet because it was “unadoptable.” The defense claimed the dog was 12 to 14 years old, had cataracts and had lived at Taylor’s residence for about 18 months.
She said when authorities took Grandpa out of her house, “They drug him out the back door. He did not want to leave. … I kept him in my house. (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals experts) said (Grandpa) was in distress.”
The state presented a witness, Lisa Steele of Moulton, who said she adopted the dog from an adoption drive after the raid and named him “Sterling” in July 2015. Sterling died eight months later, Steele said, but Sterling was “a lot healthier and happy” while her family owned him.
Several times while answering Waldrep’s questions, Taylor, 84, mentioned her age, saying her memory is not as good as it was. She said she could not recall some dogs and cats, and did not remember details about when the animals were seen by shelter veterinarian Dr. Larry Jacobs.
Experts for ASPCA, Dr. Nicole Eller and Dr. Kathyrn Destreza, who testified on the first day of the trial last Wednesday, were put back on the witness stand. Eller refuted Taylor’s testimony that she had 70 animals ready to transport out to rescue organizations when the Moulton Police Department shut down the shelter in June 2015.
“In my professional opinion, I couldn’t see 70 health certificates being issued on the dogs,” Eller said, saying the dogs were in poor health.
Taylor said she often used her Exxon retirement money and her Social Security check to pay for shelter operations. She was receiving $6,666 a month from the county as part of the $80,000 annual contract she had to operate the temporary shelter at her residence on Lawrence County 170.
“I had to borrow money, hock jewelry and guns” to pay for operating the shelter, she said.
Taylor said she often bought shelter food and supplies from Tractor Supply in Moulton and Jeffers animal supplies, a catalog company.
“I did an intake on every animal on my property,” Taylor said. “The dogs had water, shelter, food, care at my shelter. … Every dog there was fed and watered daily.”
She said Jacobs “did a lot of free work for me.”
Taylor cried often on the stand Tuesday when answering Hughes’ questions and got defensive answering Waldrep’s questions.
Taylor said she didn’t have the shelter’s records to look over because Moulton Police Chief Lyndon McWhorter took them during the raid.
Taylor said she wanted to establish a permanent shelter for the county but commissioners Bobby Burch, Joey Hargrove and Norman Pool “refused to change a sentence” in her contract that she said kept her from getting a loan from Bank Independent.
She called state witness Ashley Kerby, “the biggest liar I have ever listened to in my life.” Kerby testified earlier that she saw her dog at the shelter on a television report about the raid. “She convinced me with big show of tears that was her dog,” Taylor said. “I’ve got good intuition about people. She really fooled me.”