Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Accused Dog Abuser Seeks Trial
Changes mind, decides against plea deal
It was a big disappointment for a number of people in Palmer who thought the case of a man charged with 50 counts of animal cruelty would finally be over.
Willow breeder Frank Rich initially pled “not guilty” after Mat-Su animal control officers found 20 dead dogs on Rich’s property last January and removed more than 160 others who appeared to be starving.
Rich was scheduled to change his plea Wednesday in a Palmer courthouse where a small crowd turned out to condemn him, hoping he’d receive a harsh punishment.
“First off, this man should never be allowed to own animals again,” said Holly Thorssin, who adopted one of the dogs taken from Rich’s farm. “He deserves to be punished. He watched from his front porch while 160 dogs starved for months and he never even asked for help.”
But the crowd was disappointed when Rich’s attorney made an announcement that seemed to surprise everyone. He told the judge that Rich had changed his mind about accepting a plea deal with the state and would seek a trial instead.
Rich left the courtroom amid jeers from the crowd vowing they’d be back. At least one man said he was relieved that Rich would face a jury. He said maybe now Rich would get what he deserved instead of a lighter penalty under the plea deal.