A Dallas woman was convicted on Friday of nine counts of animal cruelty for hoarding 82 dogs and cats in a barn on Ovilla Road in Ellis County.
Michelle Lorraine Lehman will spend one year in jail and pay a $36,000 fine. It took an Ellis County jury two hours to convict her following the five day trial.
Prosecutors told the jury that she hoarded 82 animals, many of which were in extremely malnourished condition, said Ann Montgomery-Moran, a spokeswoman in the district attorney's office. She was convicted of keeping 48 dogs and 34 cats without giving them sufficient food, water, shelter or care.
The investigation that ensued revealed that Lehman physically abused the animals, tethered dogs without access to water, enclosed an unadoptable feral cat population, and even isolated unruly animals by tethering them to a post without food or water until they died, Montgomery-Moran wrote in an email. She would then bury the dead animals behind the barn.
Lehman argued that she fed the animals leftover pizza given to her by a friend who worked a nearby restaurant. However, prosecutors showed images of discarded crusts, plastic straws and other trash that she left on the floor of the barn.
Of the 82 animals, 67 had to be euthanized. In closing arguments, Assistant County & District Attorney Seth McCloskey asked the jury to weigh what the lives of the animals were worth before levying a sentence.