Former Ravens player Terrence Cody was acquitted Monday of the two most serious animal cruelty charges against him but found guilty of multiple misdemeanors after a trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
The charges stemmed from the January death of Cody's dog Taz, who lived at Cody's former home in Reisterstown. Prosecutors said the animal starved to death over a period of at least a month.
Cody, 27, was found not guilty by Judge Judith C. Ensor of two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty. But Ensor convicted him of five other counts related to failing to provide care for Taz. She also found him guilty of illegally possessing an alligator and of neglecting the alligator.
Before she read her verdict, Ensor said she was mindful that not every "morally reprehensible" action is illegal.
Defense attorney Joe Murtha had argued during the three-day bench trial that while his client was neglectful, he did not intentionally torture or kill Taz.
Cody paid $8,000 to purchase and import Taz, a Canary mastiff, from Spain. He took Taz to the vet a few hours before the dog died.
"If your intent is to kill the dog and to torture the dog, you're not going to bring it to the vet on the last day of its life," Murtha said during closing arguments.
Cody also was convicted of two misdemeanor drug charges related to marijuana and paraphernalia that police found in his former home on Old Grey Mare Court.
"I'm relieved and very grateful that he's been acquitted of the felony charges that were brought against him," Murtha said outside the courthouse.
The dog, which once weighed at least 100 pounds, was less than 50 pounds when it died, according to prosecutor Adam Lippe.
"He let this dog starve over more than four weeks," Lippe said. "In the end, that dog was eating trash and eating bones to survive."
Lippe said other dogs in Cody's home were in good condition, but for some reason Cody treated Taz differently.
Cody's girlfriend, Kourtney J. Kelley, 28, leased the home in Reisterstown with Cody and faced the same charges in the case. She was acquitted of the aggravated animal cruelty, drug and alligator charges. She was found guilty of five counts in connection with neglecting Taz.
Kelley and her attorney, Jose Molina, left the courthouse in Towson without commenting.
Molina argued during the trial that the drug paraphernalia, marijuana and alligator belonged to Cody, not Kelley. He also said Taz was solely the property of Cody.
Ensor scheduled sentencing Jan. 5 for Cody and Jan. 22 for Kelley. Each faces more than a year of jail plus fines. The couple has two young children.
The Ravens released Cody after he was indicted in February, and he is a free agent.