A husband and wife charged with animal cruelty both entered plea agreements in the Hillsboro Municipal Court on Friday.
The Times-Gazette previously reported that John Ward, 48, and Lori Ward, 42, both of Hillsboro, were charged after numerous dogs and cats were allegedly found in “extreme unsanitary conditions,” according to an affidavit.
Both pled guilty to the second-degree misdemeanors. The state recommended suspended sentences on the condition that they forfeit the animals and possess no animals during their probation periods.
Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David H. McKenna described “the conditions of this place – I wouldn’t call it a home” as “pretty disgusting.”
He asked John Ward: “Why’d you do this? … Do you hate these animals?”
“No,” he said.
“But you didn’t do anything about it except make it worse,” McKenna told him.
The judge asked Lori Ward if she had been living in the same residence as the animals. She said that she and her husband were, at times, living there and spending the night.
She added, “I do a lot of stuff for my church.”
McKenna then said, “Well, you don’t have to worry about taking care of pets for a long time.”
He added, “Maybe you should look into raising flowers.”
Ninety-day jail sentences were suspended on each case with the conditions of the agreements. Also suspended were $750 fines.
The Wards will each have to complete 80 hours of community service. They will be on non-reporting probation for five years, which, according to McKenna, is “as long as I am allowed” to place a defendant on probation.
In another case, Donnie Van Winkle, 23, Hillsboro, appeared on a bench warrant. McKenna said the warrant was issued when Van Winkle failed to appear for a 40-day jail sentence.
The judge added that Van Winkle was previously furloughed on a criminal damages conviction last year. Records show that Van Winkle pled no contest to the charge.
At that time, half of a 90-day jail sentence was imposed. McKenna also said that last year, Van Winkle was involved in a felony diversion program.
On Friday, Van Winkle told the judge that he was recently convicted of domestic violence in Clinton County. He said that he is also under indictment on a charge of third-degree felony illegal assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs.
McKenna also said that Van Winkle has not reported to the probation department “in quite a while.”
Van Winkle was found to be in violation of his probation. The remaining 40 days on his furlough were imposed and began on Thursday. His probation is set to be reviewed in November.
In other cases:
* Brian Midkiff, 36, Hillsboro, entered an agreement on first-degree misdemeanor contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a minor. As per the agreement, Midkiff pled guilty to an amended and reduced charge of fourth-degree misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The state recommended a suspended sentence on the condition that he complete a case plan through children services. A 30-day jail sentence was suspended, as was a $250 fine. Midkiff must perform 80 hours of community service and complete counseling at FRS.
* Martin Hamilton, 42, Mowrystown, also entered an agreement. He pled guilty to first-degree misdemeanor receiving stolen property.The state recommended a suspended sentence on the condition that he have no contact with the alleged victim. McKenna said the prosecutor indicated that restitution was already paid. As per the agreement, a 180-day jail sentence was suspended. Hamilton must pay half of a $1,000 fine. He was placed on reporting probation.
* An agreement was also reached for Samuel Ross, 19, Hillsboro. He pled guilty to fourth-degree misdemeanor trespassing. An accompanying charge for contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a minor was dismissed. A 30-day jail sentence was suspended. Ross must pay half of a $250 fine. He must also complete 80 hours of community service.
* An agreement was also reached for Lisa Knaur, 30, Hillsboro. She pled no contest to first-degree misdemeanor assault. Knaur was found guilty and, as per the agreement, sentencing was deferred to give her time to complete an anger management class. If she is successful, and if she stays away from the alleged victim, the case will be dismissed.
* Katherine Page, 18, Hillsboro, appeared on a warrant that was issued after the court received a sworn statement from a relative that Page was not complying with a no contact order. The Times-Gazette previously reported that Page entered an agreement and pled guilty to second-degree misdemeanor possession of drug abuse instruments earlier this month. A 90-day jail sentence was suspended. A probation violation hearing is set for Aug. 10. If Page passes a drug screen, she will be placed on electronic monitoring house arrest. If not, her bond will be set at $5,000.
Reach Sarah Allen at 937-393-3456, ext. 1680, or on Twitter @SarahAllenHTG.