A horrific animal hoarding case uncovered in Waxahachie in 2011 ended with the hoarder being sent to jail for a year, the maximum sentence for her crime. Michelle Lorraine Lehman, 41, of Dallas, was convicted on August 16 of nine counts of animal cruelty and sentenced to one year in jail and a $36,000 fine — $4,000 for each count.
According to a release from Ellis County assistant district attorney Seth McCloskey, an Ellis County jury deliberated for two hours following a five-day trial.
Lehman leased a barn on Ovilla Road, where she confined 48 dogs and 34 cats without adequate food, water, shelter or care. Many of the animals were in extremely malnourished condition, infested with fleas, disease, open wounds and parasites; 67 of the 82 animals found had to be euthanized.
"Lehman was punished to the fullest extent of the law," McCloskey said.
The investigated revealed that Lehman physically abused the animals, tethered dogs without access to water, and isolated unruly animals by tethering them until they died, whereupon she buried them behind the barn.
During the trial, Lehman testified that she fed the dogs pizza given by a friend who worked at a restaurant. But evidence showed that the "pizza" was just leftover crusts mixed in with trash such as plastic straws and napkins.
"My office is grateful for the jury's verdict and sentence, which shows they place tremendous importance on the lives of those animals," McCloskey said. "We also want to thank the Waxahachie Animal Control officers for their hard work in this case."