MARCH 24, 2016 UPDATE: Terrence Cody was sentenced today to nine months in the Baltimore County Detention Center.
After a three-day bench trial, former Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Terrence Cody has been acquitted of felony animal cruelty charges that he “intentionally tortured” and “cruelly killed” Taz, his Presa Canarios Mastiff, earlier this year.
Judge Judith C. Ensor did, however, charge Cody with five counts of animal neglect, the Baltimore Sun reports.
Before announcing her verdict, the judge said she was aware that not every “morally reprehensible” action is against the law.
Cody was also found guilty of illegally possessing and neglecting an alligator, and convicted of two misdemeanor drug charges.
According to the disturbing details in a February 2015 indictment, Cody and his girlfriend, Kourtney J. Kelley, inflicted unnecessary suffering or pain on Taz; did not provide their dog with nutritious food or proper drink in sufficiency quantity; did not provide proper space; and did not provide necessary veterinary care.
Taz weighed only 50 pounds when he died in January. The average weight for a Presa Canarios Mastiff is about 100 pounds.
Cody was dropped from the Ravens after the February indictment was made public.
In his opening statements Thursday, prosecutor Adam Lippe said Taz “died a horrible, miserable death.” He displayed a photo of Taz’s small cage, filled with feces and vomit, and compared it to a photo of Cody’s shoe room, which was neat and tidy.
On the witness stand in his own defense Friday, Cody said he and his uncle run a breeding operation in Alabama. When Taz started losing weight in December 2014, Cody said his uncle thought he might have worms and advised Cody to give him medication for the condition.
About a month later, Cody finally took the emaciated dog to a veterinarian.
“I asked them could they help me with my dog, because my dog was very sick,” he testified, according to WBAL.
When he was told Taz died hours later, Cody said he was “speechless. I went into my own little world. I was still shocked that he was gone.”
Baltimore County Police Sgt. Andrew MacLellan testified Friday that when he executed a search warrant on Cody’s property two days after Taz died, he found the dog’s filthy cage in the garage. He said the smell was so bad that he and other detectives had to hold their noses and cover their mouths.
Cody told him Taz had only become sick a few days before he died, MacLellan testified. He said he kept him in the garage because he was a guard dog.
During the search, the detectives also found drug paraphernalia and a 3-foot-long alligator in a 3-foot-long tank.
Kelley’s attorney said she is innocent and was not involved in Taz’s care. Like Cody, she was acquitted of the felony animal cruelty charges (as well as the alligator and drug charges) and found guilty on the five counts of neglect.
Judge Ensor decided the verdict since Cody and Kelley chose a bench trial rather than a trial by jury. Cody is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 5, and Kelley on Jan. 22.
They are each facing more than a year of prison time and thousands of dollars in fines.
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