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Terrence Cody takes stand in own defense; animal cruelty trial to continue Monday

Terrence Cody takes stand in own defense; animal cruelty trial to continue Monday
Former Raven Terrence Cody enters the Baltimore County Circuit Courthouse in Towson for his trial on charges related to animal cruelty. In the background is Cody's girlfriend Kourtney Kelley. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun)

Former Baltimore Ravens player Terrence Cody took the witness stand in his own defense Friday as his animal cruelty trial continued for a second day in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Cody, 27, described how he enjoyed having pet dogs from the time he was about 5 years old. When he was in college at the University of Alabama, he said, he sneaked a pet dog into his dorm room.

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Cody and his girlfriend, Kourtney J. Kelley, 28, face 15 counts, including aggravated animal cruelty and drug charges. Many of the animal-related charges stem from the January death of Cody's dog Taz, a Canary Mastiff. Prosecutors allege Taz starved to death at the couple's former home in Reisterstown.

Judge Judith C. Ensor will decide the verdict in the case because both Cody and Kelley chose a bench trial rather than jury trial. The trial is scheduled to resume Monday.

Taz died a few hours after Cody took him to the veterinarian the night of Jan. 19. The former Raven described wrapping the dog in a "Duck Dynasty" blanket that night to take him to the Main Street Veterinary Hospital. When he found out Taz died, he was in shock, he said.

"I was speechless," he said.

Cody said he and his uncle have a breeding kennel called Mount Cody Kennel, located on a farm Cody owns in Alabama. The business is named after the nickname Cody was given because of his large size.

When Taz got sick, Cody gave him medication for worms on the advice of the uncle, he said.

Prosectors allege Cody and Kelley neglected the dog for weeks. A forensic veterinarian testified Thursday that Taz did not have worms and said the dog was neglected for roughly a month. Photos presented by the assistant state's attorney Adam Lippe showed Taz was emaciated at the time of his death.

Throughout the trial, Kelley's defense attorney, Jose Molina, has contended the dog belonged only to Cody, not to Kelley.

Cody was released by the Ravens after he was indicted in February.

Also Friday, witnesses called by the defense said they never saw Cody act cruelly toward animals and seemed to love dogs. One was Brenda Petel, who has a farm in Westminster. She never knew Taz but trained five other dogs for Cody. Petel's husband, P.J., is assistant groundskeeper for the Ravens. Because she loves animals, Brenda Petel has helped train Ravens players' puppies, she said.

She said Cody often brought dog toys, treats and food to her farm. She described him as calm and sweet.

"He's a big guy, but he's a big, quiet guy," she said of Cody.

Baltimore County Police Sgt. Andrew MacLellan, who executed a search warrant at Cody and Kelley's home a few days after Taz's death, testified for the prosecution. He described a filthy crate filled with feces and vomit in the garage, where Taz often stayed. The garage smelled so bad that detectives covered their noses and mouths, he said.

Cody told MacLellan that Taz had gotten sick a few days before he died, MacLellan said.

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Police also found drug paraphernalia in the home on Old Grey Mare Court, he said.

On cross examination by defense attorney Joe Murtha, the sergeant said that other dogs in the home were "in perfect condition."

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