Columbia woman acquitted of animal cruelty charges

The Columbia woman on trial after 40 dead animals were found in her home in January was acquitted of all remaining 22 animal cruelty charges in Howard County Circuit Court on Thursday, leaving 18 animal neglect charges for jury deliberation.

Elizabeth Lindenau, 41, of Columbia, was originally indicted on 69 counts of animal cruelty, neglect, and abuse in March.

The remaining 18 misdemeanor charges of animal neglect, which carry a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine per count, are for failure to provide proper drink to 18 animals.

On Thursday, Howard County Circuit Court Judge Louis A. Becker III acquitted Lindenau of the animal cruelty charges, citing that the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence that Lindenau had knowledge the animals were being neglected.

"There needs to be proof that she knew they were incurring suffering," Becker said. "The lack of evidence placing her is a fatal flaw."

Becker added that witness testimony revealed Lindenau to be the type of person who went to great lengths to prevent animals from suffering.

"All evidence shows a pattern of behavior of contact with animals that is contrary to the definition of cruel," Becker said.

During Lindenau's testimony, she reaffirmed the testimony of her husband, Brady Decker, that she had no knowledge the animals were being neglected until after they were discovered on Jan. 16.

"I was responsible," Decker said during cross-examination earlier this week. "I took care of their food and water."

Lindenau said she has been living in her parents' home since April of 2011 and had not visited the townhouse since August.

The case was sent to the jury for deliberations on Thursday evening.

Before heading to trial on Aug. 22, nine charges were dropped. During the trial last week, Becker acquitted Lindenau of 20 charges.

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