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Smithsburg woman accused of animal cruelty fails to appear for trial

Bench warrant issued against Martin

Bench warrant issued against Martin

June 17, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A bench warrant was issued Monday morning for a 67-year-old woman accused of keeping malnourished doves and guinea pigs at her Smithsburg home.

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III issued the bench warrant after Bertha Martin failed to appear for her trial in Washington County Circuit Court.

Martin's defense attorney, Bernard W. Semler II, said his client has suffered health problems, and that the court date might have slipped her mind. Semler had expected his client to enter a plea Monday, he said.

In issuing the bench warrant, Boone ordered that Martin be held without bond. But by Monday afternoon, Martin appeared before the judge, who released her on personal recognizance.

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In March, when Martin and another woman appeared in Washington County District Court, Martin asked that her case be moved to Circuit Court for a jury trial.

Her co-defendant, Patty Burkett, pleaded guilty in district court to one count of animal cruelty, failing to provide a dove with nutritious food in sufficient quantity, proper drink, air, space or veterinary care.

Burkett, 64, of 215 Maple Ave. in Boonsboro, was sentenced to 15 months of probation, during which she is forbidden to have responsibility for any pets or animals, Washington County District Court records show.

In May, Martin, of 12903 Unger Road in Smithsburg, surrendered 20 of her 25 dogs to the Humane Society of Washington County.

Humane Society officials discovered the alleged neglect involving the doves during an annual inspection for a kennel license. The application for a kennel license was denied, Humane Society spokeswoman Katherine Cooker said.

Martin appealed to the Washington County Animal Control Authority, which upheld the Humane Society's decision, Cooker said in a press release.

Keeping more than five dogs requires a kennel permit, according to Washington County's animal control ordinance, Cooker said.

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