Columbia woman in animal cruelty trial denies charges

The Columbia woman facing animal cruelty charges after 40 animals were discovered dead inside her Columbia townhouse in January testified in Howard County Circuit Court Tuesday that she didn't know the animals were being neglected and abused.

An emotional Elizabeth Lindenau, 41, of the 9400 block of Hundred Drums Row, corroborated earlier testimony from her husband, Brady Decker, that she was unaware the 20 animals she's charged with abusing had died until after they were discovered by police on Jan. 16.

Lindenau, who faces 40 charges of animal cruelty after 20 were dismissed by Judge Louis A. Becker III last week, denied abusing, neglecting or killing any of the animals.

On the night of Jan. 16, she said she asked Decker to retrieve a bird from the Lambeth Court townhouse, where the dead animals were found, and bring it to her parents' house, where she had been staying since April.

Decker, who was indicted on 69 counts of animal cruelty, neglect and abuse charges in July, is scheduled for trial on Jan. 2, 2013.

After her husband did not return after a few hours, Lindenau said she became suspicious and called Decker, who told her, "They're all gone, and I'm never coming back."

Lindenau corroborated Decker's testimony that he was contemplating suicide, and said she found him distraught parked in a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot.

"He was someone else, facially he didn't look right," a sobbing Lindenau said. "He wasn't recognizable or familiar."

Lindenau said she admitted him to Howard County General Hospital, where he stayed in the mental health ward for seven days.

Earlier in the day, Decker testified that he was solely responsible for taking care of the animals at Lambeth Court while the couple moved to Lindenau's parent's home.

He said that his wife moved out of the townhouse in April of 2011, and that she last visited the property in August.

Decker said he moved out of the townhouse in November, and stopped paying the water and electrical bills shortly thereafter.

Decker testified that he stopped visiting the residence to feed the animals after he discovered a bird, a favorite cockatoo, dead at the bottom of its cage during the second week of December.

Becker said the case is expected to go to the jury for deliberations on Thursday.

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