www.baltimoresun.com/explore/howard/news/crime/ph-ho-cf-animal-cruelty-0830-20120823,0,7747938.story

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Columbia woman, on trial for animal cruelty, blames husband for deaths

By Luke Lavoie, llavoie@tribune.com

6:08 PM EDT, August 23, 2012

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A Columbia woman charged with animal cruelty should not be blamed for the 40 dead animals found in her townhouse earlier this year because her husband was responsible for the animals, the woman's attorney argued during her trial Thursday.

During his opening statements in Howard County Circuit Court, the attorney for Elizabeth Lindenau, who faces 69 counts of animal cruelty, neglect and abuse, told the jury that his client's husband, Brady Decker, was responsible for the care and feeding of the animals.

The animals were found Jan. 16 in a townhouse leased by the couple in the 9600 block of Lambeth Court.

The dead animals, which included birds, cats, rabbits, a guinea pig and a snake, were discovered by the property manager, who called the county police. When police arrived, they said, they found the dead animals in cages, loose around the home and in the freezer.

Police said the animals had no access to food and the electricity, gas and water had been shut off in the residence.

Four animals — two cats, a bearded dragon lizard and a gerbil — were rescued alive and put up for adoption, police said.

"This case epitomizes animal cruelty," prosecutor Tiffany Vaira said in her opening arguments.

Vaira said the two veterinarians that performed the necropsy on the animals will testify that the animals starved.

"The evidence will show that the animals did not die accidentally," Vaira said.

Lindenau's attorney, Jonathan Smith, said the couple recently had moved to her parents' house in Columbia, leaving some animals behind. Decker was responsible for feeding the animals at Lambeth Court, Smith said.

At the parents' house, located in the 9400 block of Hundred Drums Row, police found about 90 live animals, police said.

Decker was indicted on 69 counts of animal cruelty, as was his wife, on July 3, according to online court records. The records state that the indictment was sealed until July 27.

Decker is scheduled to be arraigned in circuit court on Friday.

Smith argued that Lindenau, a former National Aquarium employee and executive director of an animal rescue foundation, had moved out of the Lambeth Court property months before the animals were found dead in January.

Smith said that Lindenau had no knowledge of the deaths until Jan. 16, and that she constantly provided food to her husband to give to the animals.

Smith said Decker, who is scheduled to testify for the defense, knew that some of the animals had died and lied to his wife about it.

"She had nothing to do with the animals being neglected," Smith said. "This is a woman who has devoted her life to animals."

The trial is scheduled to continue Friday and last into next week.