A search warrant that led to the raid of a animal shelter was executed with probable cause, ruled a Cook County judge Tuesday after wading through hours of witness testimony.
Dawn Hamill, owner of , was charged with 38 counts following the Feb. 11 seizure of more than 100 animals from her property.
Her attorney, Steven Decker, contends that statements of animal neglect made in the search warrant were deliberately false. He criticized those statements in court, saying they questionably rely on a county inspector and a third-party source named "J. Doe."
His from Dr. Randall Verink, a veterinarian with ties to Painted Pastures.
But Judge Christopher J. Donnelly deemed Verink’s testimony “irrelevant” because he inspected animals that were not rescued by police and couldn't attest to the condition of those rescued at the time of the raid.
For similar reasons, he refused to hear the statements of a second veterinarian from , where all of the animals have been treated within the last couple years.
Painting a picture of "healthy" and "playful" animals, Hamill testified that she has been in compliance with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. She presented the court with her latest license, which was approved after the February raid.
Nevertheless, as prosecutors pointed out—and Hamill verified—the business was cited for unsanitary conditions in both June 2010 and November 2010.
In his closing remarks, assistant state’s attorney Richard Stake, Jr. said a judge had already found the statements made in the search warrant—signed earlier this year—to be credible.
Witnesses who vouched for the warrant Tuesday included Larry Draus, an investigator for the county, and Terry Wenninger, a stable owner. Both said they were present on Hamill's property during the raid.
When referring to Hamill and Kathleen Krainas—who testified that the dog she bought from Painted Pastures a week before the raid needed substantial grooming and 10 months of medical attention, including surgery—Stake asked, “Who has the bias to lie here?”
He said parts of Hamill's testimony, including when she had been visited by the Department of Agriculture, changed from last week to this.
When his turn came, Decker asked why sheriff’s police hadn’t removed the 40 or so dogs inside Hamill’s home if living conditions had been so poor, and why a deputy hadn’t signed a complaint when he visited the property a week before the raid for a routine animal transfer.
Because Hamill keeps a hair salon in the room adjacent to the dog quarters, Decker also questioned how her business could manage with an open stench of urine and feces.
In the end, Donnelly sided with the state, noting plainly that the defense had failed to present evidence showing the county had no justification to search Hamill's property.
Decker said he and his client would consider contesting the judge’s decision.
A final pretrial hearing is slated for Jan. 23, 2012.
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