Chris White, 57, and Clare White, 55, are charged in Delaware County District Court with 10 counts of animal cruelty. They are free on $25,000 bail.
The couple and their adult son appeared in court Thursday for a motion hearing seeking the return of their animals. In July, sheriff’s deputies had removed 40 dogs and cats and about 300 chickens from their rural Jay residence.
After meeting for almost two hours in chambers with the couple’s attorney, Winston Connor II, and District Attorney Kenny Wright, Special Judge Alicia Littlefield returned to the courtroom and ruled the Sheriff’s Office must return as many of the animals as possible to the Whites.
|Shameful: Alicia Littlefield|
“Charges against the Whites are not being dismissed,” Wright said after the hearing.
There is no deadline to return the animals, Wright said, but it is supposed to happen “as soon as possible.”
“The court’s primary concern during the hearing centered on the couple giving up ownership interest in the animals,” Wright said.
Connor declined to comment other than to say, “While the hearing dealt with return of the animals, much of the issues surrounded constitutional law.”
He declined to elaborate, but after a September hearing seeking to return the animals, Connor said, “It is our contention the sheriff’s department completely messed up this case by violating my clients Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights as well as their due process rights.
“The sheriff’s department [allegedly] failed to get blood samples or allow an independent veterinarian to draw blood samples to determine the exact cause of the animals’ problems, but instead began getting rid of the evidence, including the animals.”
The animals have been in the care of volunteers from the Oklahoma Animal Alliance, the Miami Animal Alliance and the Peaceful Animal Adoption Shelter in Vinita.
Nine members of the Oklahoma Animal Alliance attended the hearing.
“Disturbing,” said Marilyn Monical, a member of the group attending the hearing.
After the hearing, most members of the group said they were “disappointed” in the decision to return the animals and lamented that there is “no justice.”
When the dogs were seized, they appeared to be malnourished and sickly, according to Sheriff Harlan Moore at the time of the July 14 arrest.
An on-site veterinary triage was set up to care for the animals, but four dogs had to be euthanized at the scene, he said.
(Tulsa World - Oct 29, 2016)