District Court Judge Johnson decides animal cruelty cases

Published 4:48 pm Monday, February 24, 2014

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

Lowndes County District Court Judge Adrian D. Johnson decided two animal cruelty cases in February.

One person pleaded guilty and one person was found guilty in separate animal cruelty cases that came before Johnson on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
Marie Waters, 44, of Fort Deposit, pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals, a Class B misdemeanor in connection with the treatment of horses in her care.
Charges were dropped against her husband Ernest Gene Waters, 46.
Coral Ann Ammerman Smith, 51, of Hope Hull pleaded not guilty but was found guilty of cruelty to animals in connection with the care of dogs and cats.

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According to Lt. G. Lashun Hutson of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 10, 2013 warrants were signed for cruelty to animals and both Ernest and Marie Waters were arrested.

Hutson said at the time that there were several complaints about animals “not being fed properly.”

Hutson said on the day he got involved, one of the owners reported that someone poisoned their horse. He said the owner called Greenville veterinarian Brittany Bell Reynolds, who in turned called him to see if the sheriff’s office could send someone out with her.

Hutson said, “One of the horses was already down,” a mare with a foal. “That horse was in such bad shape, it was by a barbed wire fence where a bale of hay had been thrown over to try to feed them (the horses)… not by the owners, but by a concerned neighbor.”

After Reynolds examined the horse, Hutson said, Ernest Waters agreed to allow the horse to be euthanized. He said there were a total of seven horses, and he and Reynolds looked at the other six.

Hutson said after an examination, the veterinarian told him that if left another week or so, two more (horses) would be expected to be dead. He said he made the decision to seize the horses and placed them in the care of people who deal with horses every day.

Assistant Lowndes County District Attorney Will Kelly said charges were dropped against the husband because the wife through her Attorney, Connie J, Morrow, “admitted that she was responsible for the animals.”

He said Judge Johnson accepted her admission of guilt and ordered restitution, cost of court and fined her.

Lowndes County Circuit Court Clerk Ruby Jones-Thomas said Waters was ordered to pay restitution of $160, fined $150 plus court cost of $262.

According to a copy of court documents provided by the Circuit Clerk’s Office, Johnson ruled, “All horses are to be returned to the defendants as soon as practicable by the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department.”

Also, according to information provided by the Circuit Clerk’s Office, Coral Ann Ammerman Smith of Hope Hull entered a plea of not guilty to cruelty to animals in a separate case before Johnson on Feb. 18, as well.

Sheriff’s Office officials said Smith, 51, of Hope Hull, was booked on Jan. 2, 2014.

According to Kelly, the case involved the care of dogs and cats, and the defendant “failed to live up to her obligation.”

According to a copy of a court document provided by the Circuit Clerk’s Office, Smith entered a plea of not guilty, was found guilty and ordered to pay restitution of $2,000 to the clerk on behalf of Jean James, plus $25 to the Pate Animal Clinic. She was also ordered to play court cost of $262.