Animal abuse case ends with guilty plea

NOVEMBER 3 – BELLAIRE – A woman facing multiple animal cruelty charges in County Antrim has pleaded guilty at a remote hearing at the 13th Circuit Court under a previously brokered settlement with the prosecutor’s office.

Brooklynn Beck, 28, of Central Lake, was facing six felony charges after law enforcement in April executed a search warrant at the Muckle Road home she was renting, seizing 106 animals in condition substandard living conditions, according to court records.

Court staff confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Beck pleaded guilty that morning, but declined to specify specific charges.

County Antrim prosecutor James Rossiter at a planning conference on July 18 moved to dismiss three of six counts of killing or torturing animals and one count of abandonment or cruelty against more than 25 animals filed against Beck in exchange for a guilty plea. three counts of killing or torturing animals, according to court records.

On October 6, Beck’s attorney, Mattias Johnson, said an updated offer from Rossiter would dismiss four of six felony counts, in exchange for his client’s guilty plea to two counts. charge of murder or torture.

Beck will be sentenced in December, court staff said, although a date has not yet been set.

Neither Johnson nor Rossiter returned a call seeking comment and the 13th Circuit Court’s public records database has been down since last week due to what court staff said was a technical issue. .

Beck was previously charged in a Grand Traverse County animal cruelty incident and arraigned in April on a single misdemeanor charge after officials said a dog died after being treated by Beck at a pet business. Blair Township Anonymous Dog Grooming.

A complaint about the dog’s death led investigators to Beck’s home, where animal control officer Inga Waldrep told a forfeiture hearing in October that officials expected to find a dog, a few reptiles and a horse, but instead discovered dozens of malnourished animals living in filth.

Most of them did not have access to clean water, Waldrep said, adding that it took authorities around 10 hours to seize 22 snakes, two ducks, three mice, 25 rats, five turtles, two cats, 10 dogs, a large turtle, a small turtle. , a bearded dragon, a chameleon, a horse, 55 hens, five giant rabbits, six miniature rabbits, baby rabbits, a monitor lizard and an iguana.

The iguana died while investigators were still on the Muckle Road property, Waldrep said, and the monitor lizard died at the county animal control facility later that day.

The case has drawn the attention of animal advocates in at least three states, after court records from Mohave County, Arizona, and Washington County, Utah show Beck and her fiancé, Michael Patrick Turland, 43, have previously been victims of animal cruelty or obstruction of justice. convictions in these jurisdictions.

Turland is listed as a co-defendant in some 13th Circuit Court documents associated with Beck’s charges.

Mohave County records show law enforcement was called to a residence in rural Golden Valley, after Beck and Turland left a house they were renting and officers found dogs, rabbits , snakes, a Savannah Monitor lizard, a turtle, a cockatoo and three cockatiels. inside a chest freezer. Dogs, rabbits and birds were emaciated, a Mohave County report said.

“Michael had been notified that they were being evicted,” reads a Mohave County incident report. “He had moved to an unknown address in Michigan. He was planning to return for a few items, including the freezer.”

County Antrim Sheriff Dan Bean attended the October 28 forfeiture hearing in the 13th Circuit Court and did not give evidence, although he has previously said staff in his office found a freezer on Central Lake property with dead animals inside.

“We had the same thing as Arizona – frozen animals, including a lot of reptiles, and I don’t know what else, until we looked at everything,” Bean said on April 29, the day after the search warrant was issued.

County Antrim had by early summer spent more than $15,000 on food, medical supplies, medical care and housing for animals, many of which are unaccustomed to the northern Michigan climate. and require complicated care regimens.

Waldrep in October estimated that care for all the animals, many of which have returned to good health and will be rehomed, exceeds $600 per day.

The 2020 animal control budget is approximately $280,000, according to county records, which covers salaries, equipment, vehicles, building maintenance, vaccinations, training and operating supplies, among other expenses.

Waldrep said animals in distress cost more to care for than a healthy animal abandoned by its owner or a stray picked up loose and without a permit.

Many of the animals seized at Muckle Road are so-called “exotic” animals, such as large lizards, turtles and large snakes, which are not often seen in shelters in northern Michigan.

The case, which has strained county budgets and upset county officials, has been closely watched for months by Arizona reptile enthusiast Kali Williams. Williams says that in 2021 she lent Turland her four large boa constrictors for breeding, and that was the last time she saw them. She said she was worried they were all dead or frozen.

But Williams has learned that one of his snakes, Jigsaw, an elaborately marked Argentine boa, is still alive and in the care of County Antrim Animal Control.

“You have no idea what a relief it is to find out that only one of my snakes is alive,” Williams said Wednesday. “I’m getting my boy back. He’s lost a huge amount of weight – he’s a quarter of what he was – he’s covered in scars, he has carpet burns and snake bites, but he’s alive.”

Williams said she has been in contact with County Antrim officials, has previously offered to help rehabilitate the snakes and other reptiles, and is currently arranging a trip to Michigan from Arizona with an appropriate vehicle to move animals.

Williams works in a US government security position and said she works as a Lyft driver to earn extra money to pay for the relocation effort, which she says could cost $10,000 or more.

Antrim County Animal Control accepts donations for animal care and will charge an adoption fee. Williams recently set up a gofundme campaign under the name “Pet Lovers United, Bring Our Pets Home”.

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