Robert Murphy, 61, and Susan Murphy, 67, were indicted on Jan. 9 on 96 charges a piece in connection with a suspected puppy mill authorities raided in April 2016. Originally charged in July 2016 with 84 misdemeanors in district court, the charges by the grand jury include aggravated animal cruelty, a felony.
Aggravated animal cruelty carries with it up to three years in prison and fines of up to $5,000, according to the Maryland State Code. Robert Murphy received nine counts of aggravated animal cruelty in his indictment, while his wife Susan received 10 counts in her respective indictment.
Acting Wicomico County State's Attorney Ella Disharoon confirmed Tuesday that the district court case pending against the Murphys will be dropped in order pursue the case in circuit court. The couple was scheduled for a hearing in district court on Jan. 20, which will probably be cancelled due to the indictment, according to Disharoon. No initial appearance has been set as of Jan. 10, according to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search.
The Murphys were charged in July 2016 after sheriff's deputies discovered hundreds of dogs living in filth and feces inside three kennels at their home in the 5000 block of Cooper Road, court records show. Veterinarians who inspected the 310 dogs seized from the property are quoted in court documents as determining some of the dogs resided in their own excrement for between three and four months.
The conditions inside the Murphy home were worse than inside the kennels, records show. Authorities said 166 dogs were found inside the home contained in pet carriers and play pens designed for small children, surrounded by feces and newspapers. One dog was found inside the bathtub lying in its own feces, according to court records. The pet carriers, according to police, were estimated to have last been cleaned between nine months and a year prior to the raid.
The air inside the home burned the eyes and noses of animal control officers and Humane Society personnel, records show.
Law enforcement determined the Murphys were selling the dogs, mostly Pomeranians, in the Sussex Guide, according to charging documents.
HISTORY OF ANIMAL CRUELTY
Court records show the Murphys were previously investigated in 2009 in Dorchester County for neglecting dogs bred at their residence. During the time of the investigation, Dorchester County authorities said the Murphys were in the process of moving to Eden. Officers seized multiple dogs from that residence for living in deplorable conditions, but the Murphys were ultimately acquitted of those charges.
The Wicomico County Humane Society was contacted in 2009 to check into their new kennel, according to Dorchester charging documents.
The case has become the basis for two bills being sponsored in the Maryland Legislature to strengthen animal cruelty statutes.
(Delmarva News - Jan 10, 2017)
- Maryland: The case surrounding the 300-plus dogs rescued from puppy mill owners Robert Murphy, 61, and Susan Murphy, 67, continues, bringing questions about past cases and future protocol
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