Two in animal cruelty case accept plea deal

March 17, 2007|By Tyrone Richardson | Tyrone Richardson,Sun reporter

Two women charged with animal cruelty after authorities discovered in their Columbia townhouse more than 50 cats, many of them malnourished, along with the decomposing carcasses of 17 others, avoided jail time or fines yesterday by striking a deal with prosecutors on the eve of their trial.

Ayten Icgoren, 80, entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant concedes that prosecutors have sufficient evidence for a conviction but does not admit guilt.

In exchange, Howard County District Court Judge Neil Edward Axel sentenced her to probation and ordered a psychological evaluation.

Axel also agreed to put the animal cruelty case against Icgoren's daughter, Nese Enetullah Icgoren, 50, on the inactive docket if she agrees not to own any animals for a year.

Police had charged both women with 75 counts of inflicting unnecessary suffering and pain, and 75 counts of failure to provide proper care for the cats. Each of the misdemeanor counts carries a fine of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail. They were also charged with 75 misdemeanor counts of violating the Howard County animal cruelty code. Each count carries a fine of up to $1,000.

Ayten Icgoren was also charged with one count of interfering with an investigation, a county violation that carries as much as a $150 fine.

According to charging documents, during a search of the Icgoren's townhouse in the 7300 block of Swan Point Way in August, police and county animal-control officials discovered 58 live cats and 17 dead ones, some infested with maggots. Fifty of the live cats were euthanized.

Cat urine and feces were found throughout the home, including on countertops.

During the hearing yesterday, Ayten Icgoren showed resistance and continued to profess her innocence.

"I am very reluctant," Ayten Icgoren said. "[A]m I going to be able to tell the truth to what they say because they lie, lie, lie."

She added: "I want the judge to know the truth."

This week, the Howard County Board of Appeals turned down Ayten Icgoren's motion to have the Howard County's Animal Matters Board reopen her request to regain custody of three cats.

Ayten Icgoren was convicted in 2003 on misdemeanor animal cruelty charges related to the care of cats in her house in North Laurel. She was ordered to pay a $150 fine, according to court records.

Axel scheduled her probation sentencing, pending a psychological evaluation, for May 18.

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