Former Ravens player Terrence Cody's dog was so skinny and sick that employees at a Reisterstown animal hospital thought the animal was dead when he brought it in for treatment in January, veterinary staffers testified in court.
Trial on animal cruelty and drug charged against Cody, 27, and his girlfriend, Kourtney J. Kelley, 28, opened Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court. County prosecutors allege that Taz, a Canary mastiff, starved to death.
The dog died a few hours after Cody took it to Main Street Veterinary Hospital in January.
"This dog died a horrible, miserable death because of the conduct of both of these defendants," prosecutor Adam Lippe told Judge Judith C. Ensor.
Cody's attorney, Joe Murtha, said Cody neglected the animal but never intended for it to die. Cody paid $4,000 for the dog and another $4,000 to import it from Spain, he said.
"Terrence Cody did not intentionally kill his dog," he said. "He certainly acted in a neglectful way."
Kelley's attorney, Jose Molina, said his client did not have responsibility for Taz. The dog belonged solely to Cody, he said.
Cody and Kelley are each charged with 15 counts, including aggravated animal cruelty, a felony. They could be sentenced to more than three years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines if convicted.
Cody was released by the Ravens when he was indicted in February.
Ensor will decide the verdict in the case after both Kelley and Cody opted for a bench trial rather than a jury trial.
Lippe projected a slide titled "Killing of the Family Dog" as he delivered opening statements. He also presented photos of the emaciated dog and a dirty cage at Cody's 4,000-square-foot former home in Reisterstown.
Cody and Kelley also are accused of misdemeanor drug charges and of illegally possessing an alligator. Lippe presented photos of two assault rifles and drug paraphernalia — including a gas-mask bong and a 6-foot-long green glass bong — found in the home the couple leased for about a year on Old Grey Mare Court.
Molina emphasized that Kelley was not the dog's caretaker. She was working, eight months' pregnant and had a small child at home around the time of Taz's death, he said.
"She had her hands full," he said.
The drug paraphernalia was stored in Cody's "man cave" and Kelley did not know marijuana was in the house, Molina said.
According to forensic veterinarian Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, an expert witness who testified for the prosecution, Taz died of starvation and had likely been neglected for at least four weeks.
The Canary mastiff is an ancient breed of dog tracing back to the Roman Empire, she said. They are typically very muscular and weigh between 99 and 141 pounds.
Taz weighed less than 50 pounds the night he died, Lippe said.
Reisterstown veterinarian Dr. Eddie Molesworth and his staff also took the stand to describe the night Cody brought Taz into the animal hospital.
"I thought he was dead," Molesworth said. In the dog's face, "you could see every bone."
Cody was crying that night, he recalled.
"He had his head down and was crying and almost speechless for a while," Molesworth said.
Ensor also heard from neighbors who said Taz was once a large and healthy dog. The trial is scheduled to continue Friday morning.