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Animal Cruelty Trial Postponed Without Presiding Judge

Dawn Hamill was charged with several dozen counts of animal cruelty and neglect of owner's duties following a raid on her Tinley Park business in February 2011. Her attorney will try again to get the charges tossed out.

A bench trial involving the owner of a animal sanctuary was again postponed on Monday—this time in the absence of presiding Judge Christopher Donnelly.

Donnelly heard testimony last month from all six of the state’s witnesses on the alleged poor conditions that certain animals were subjected to at . For hours the courtroom was redolent with words like “horribly” and “atrocious.”

On Feb. 11, 2011, Cook County sheriff’s police from Painted Pastures after a former employee complained. The raid netted its owner, Dawn Hamill, more than 30 charges related to animal cruelty and neglect.

Hamill's defense attorney, Purav Bhatt, was expected to call his own witnesses on March 19 when the court learned that the state’s key witness, Larry Draus, was indicted on federal extortion charges unrelated to Hamill’s case.

Draus, an officer with the Cook County animal crimes unit, was accused of accepting cash payoffs from a federal informant posing as a trafficker for contraband cigarettes. The Cook County Sheriff's Office had been cooperating with federal authorities in an undercover probe of Draus and his son, also indicted, since summer 2011, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Trial is now scheduled to resume on April 9, though the defense is not expecting to call any witnesses on that date either.

After learning of Draus' indictment, Bhatt filed motions to dismiss the charges and throw out the search warrant and certain evidence "based on the fact Draus was being investigated during the time all (Hamill's) charges were being investigated," he said.

Throughout the first day of trial Bhatt challenged Draus' credibility as a witness, showing, in one instance, how a food bowl which Draus' report said didn’t exist in a dead cat’s cage could be seen in the officer’s own video.

Donnelly has twice reviewed Hamill’s claim that the search warrant was executed improperly and ruled against her.

Veruka Salt April 03, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Interestingly enough, they are looking for something to draw one's eyes away from the key issue. There were serveral other witnesess. There were photos and videos. There were also SEVERAL animals that were dead or sick. This is proof enough. This doesn't happen in one day, this happens over time. How can someone watch an animal day by day be sick, starving and dying and do nothing? And if that someone cannot help that animal anymore, their responsibility is to find someone who can, not just let them die.
Rick April 03, 2012 at 05:55 AM
She needs to be jailed, NOW.
Dina April 03, 2012 at 01:24 PM
The Judge that issued the Search Warrant was not issued on Larry Draus's testimony.It was issued on the FACTS that the women that worked for Dawn Hamil gave the Judge.There were plenty of other Police Officers and People that were at Painted Pastures the day Hamill was arrested.There were numerous people that gave their TESTIMONY to Judge Connelly and not ONE of them had ANYTHING positive to say about PAINTED PASTURES.They ALL told the Judge the HORRIFIC conditions the POOR ANIMALS were in.The investigation that is going on with Larry Draus SHOULD NOT have any effect on this case.Dawn Hamill NEEDS TO SUFFER just like the POOR ANIMALS did.There was a video and plenty of pictures to PROVE DAWN HAMILL INDEED made these ANIMALS SUFFER.SHE needs to be PUNISHED AND NEVER BE ALLOWED to EVER have ANIMALS again !!!!
lisa knox April 04, 2012 at 12:06 AM
I agree, she spent to much time on her costly image. She should of spent that money for the care of them animals!

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