Judge in Wolfeboro Dog Cruelty Trial Rules Vet Can Plead 5th, Denies Case Dismissal
OSSIPEE — A judge ruled a veterinarian and vet-tech who treated many of the 80 plus Great Danes belonging to a woman facing animal cruelty charges do not have to testify at trial.
Judge Charles Greenhalgh ruled to squash the subpoenas of Dr. Kate Battenfelder and Stephanie Maycomber, agreeing that requiring them to testify would violate their 5th amendment rights in regards to self-incrimination. Greenhalgh wrote in an order of motions, since the Wolfeboro Police Department identified Battenfelder as person of interest in the criminal investigation in the seizure of the dogs, she would not be required to testify because "any testimony she gives relative to the defendant and her dogs could either directly incriminate her or form a link in the chain of evidence that could lead to her prosecution."
Battenfelder has been accused of signing health certificates of Christina Fay's dogs, but experts and others have questioned whether the dogs were healthy when those certificates were signed. As of yet, no charges have been filed against the veterinarian.
The defense also filed a motion to dismiss based on the fact the Humane Society of the United States was not listed in the search warrant filed by the Wolfeboro Police Department. Greenhalgh denied this motion writing the Wolfeboro Police Department utilized the help of HSUS because "WPD simply does not have the manpower or facilities to safely seize and hold over 80 large dogs," and despite the HSUS testifying the seizure that day was a joint effort, "WPD made all decisions in executing the search warrant."
The defense tried to suppress the evidence seized during the raid, for the same reason. The judge again denied this request writing, "Not only did WPD have the obligation to gather evidence through the search, it was required to take the extra step of caring (for) the animal which it knew would be seized. Only an organization like HSUS could have provided this assistance."
The trial will continue Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 9:30 a.m.