Havre de Grace woman to be tried in dog case Wednesday

A New Jersey woman who has taken up the cause of Mary Magdalene Root, an elderly Havre de Grace woman jailed in early March after she failed to pay fines and to appear in court on charges of letting her dogs get out, said she will not be able to visit Bel Air on her behalf when Root goes on trial Wednesday.

Colleen Krol, 47, of Highland Lakes, N.J., planned to stage a protest in support of Root and against District Court Judge Mimi Cooper, who ordered Root, who is 81 years old and in ill health, to be held in the Harford County Detention Center on $2,500 bail, and that she could not keep any dogs on her property.

"This is everybody's grandmother," Krol said Monday. "We're supposed to respect our elders; the judge should have gotten down off her bench and helped this woman out."

Root has been charged with seven counts of having a dog at large, one for each dog that got off her fenced-in property in February 2013.

She was keeping four of the dogs for her daughter, Vatina Gifford of Cecil County, and said the dogs got out after a visitor neglected to latch the gate as he was leaving her property.

A neighbor took photos of the dogs on his property and contacted the county's animal control office.

Root has said she could not pay the fines because of financial issues, and she could not attend a previous court date because of health issues.

She was released from jail after one day, after a stranger paid 10 percent of her bond, and she has been living with her daughter and all seven dogs in Cecil County.

Krol planned to come in time for Root's trial Wednesday, but she said Monday that she could not make it because she is disabled, and has lost her driver's license.

"I just can't do it at this point, but I am coming, promise I am," she said.

She expects to visit Harford County in late May or early June and hold a protest to support Root.

"I always like to do something for my birthday to give back," Krol, whose birthday is June 6, said.

Root is scheduled to be in court Wednesday to be tried in two cases, the first regarding the seven dog-at-large charges, and the second on four counts of dog license violations and another dog at large charge.

Her attorney, Ronald W. Parker of White Marsh, said Tuesday he expects the two cases will be consolidated and tried in the same courtroom.

Parker is with the firm Parker, Pallett, Slezak & Russell LLC; he agreed to take Root's case pro bono.

In a letter to The Aegis, which was published in late March, Parker expressed his desire to take her case.

"Due to your situation, I would like to offer my services to you [Root] free of charge so that I may help you resolve this matter, and possibly for you to keep your pets," he wrote in his letter.

Parker said Tuesday he has two dogs of his own, and Judge Cooper's ruling "sort of upset me."

The attorney said his King Charles Spaniels are with him everywhere – including under his desk while he worked.

"They're with me every day," Parker said. "They go to the law office, everywhere."

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