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baltimoresun.com

State rests in Columbia animal cruelty case

By Luke Lavoie, llavoie@tribune.com

9:49 PM EDT, August 30, 2012

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After four days of testimony and 17 witnesses, the prosecution has rested its case against Elizabeth Lindenau, the Columbia woman facing 60 counts of animal cruelty, neglect and abuse after 40 dead animals were found in her Columbia townhouse in January.

Among the prosecution's witnesses were the two veterinarians who performed animal autopsies on the 20 animals Lindenau is being charged with in the case.

Veterinarian Thomas Ryan, who performed animal autopsies on 11 birds, five rabbits and one snake found at the home, testified that the animals were emaciated, with little or no food found in their stomachs, according to Wayne Kirwan, spokesman for the county State's Attorney's Office.

The dead animals, which included birds, cats, rabbits, a guinea pig and a snake, were discovered on Jan. 16 inside a townhouse leased to Lindenau and her husband, Brady Decker, located in the 9600 block of Lambeth Court.

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

During opening statements last week, Lindenau's attorney, Jonathan Smith, argued that Decker, not Lindenau, was responsible for feeding the animals. Decker was indicted on 69 counts of animal cruelty in July.

According to Smith, Lindenau, a former National Aquarium employee and executive director of an animal rescue group called the Bailey Foundation, had moved out of the Lambeth court residence months before the animals were discovered.

Smith said Decker, who is also a former National Aquarium employee, was responsible for feeding the animals during the move, and that Decker knew about the dead animals and lied to his wife about it.

However, a co-worker of Lindenau's at the Bailey Foundation testified that Lindenau told her both she and Decker were responsible for caring for the animals during the move.

Prosecutor Tiffany Vaira said another witness testified that Lindenau told her in December that all of the animals had been moved out of the Lambeth Court residence.

Brady Decker's mother, Fay Decker, who was called as a witness for the defense, testified that a distraught Lindenau called her on the night of Jan. 16 and told her Brady Decker had attempted to commit suicide.

Decker's mother said her son was admitted to the psychiatric unit at Howard County General Hospital on the Jan 16 and remained there until Jan. 23.

Decker said when she visited her son at the hospital he was quivering and lacked expression.

"He looked broken," Fay Decker said. "He had lots of sadness in his eyes."

After the prosecution rested, Smith moved to have the defendant acquitted on all 60 counts, citing defective indictments and no evidence that Lindenau knew the animals were being starved.

Judge Louis A. Becker said he would decide on the motion Friday.

If the motion is denied, the defense will call its remaining witnesses, including, Smith said, Brady Decker.