In closing arguments in the trial of a Ballard County man accused of torturing animals Wednesday, defense attorney Jeremy Ian Smith said to the jury: "The only proof of this is dogs getting sick and they found something on his property in 2016."
"He wanted those dogs to come up there for whatever sick twisted reason he had," Commonwealth Attorney Mike Stacy argued, "We wanted those dogs to come up there, eat that food and die."
Edward Ream was the Ballard County bus driver charged with several counts of animal torture. The commonwealth made the case Ream deliberately left out containers of meat soaked in antifreeze to bait and kill neighborhood dogs. The defense claimed Ream never intentionally hurt any of the dogs and he never knew they existed.
Out of nine charges, a jury found him guilty of one misdemeanor of attempted torture of a dog or cat. But the case was emotional enough to cause the jury to speak up.
The jury recommended the maximum sentence for the misdemeanor charge: 90 days in jail and a $250 fine.
But the jury had more to say. The foreman said in open court, "We did find reasonable doubt and the other counts and the longevity of them, but we felt in our hearts he did he whole thing. But we couldn't prove it."
Stacy says he respects the jury, but says this verdict brings only a little bit of closure to those witnesses who lost their best friends. "It's a small consolation to the fact everyone knows he did it," he says.
Smith says he's never heard a jury speak in open court. He says the jury had a difficult job, but they did the right thing. "They believe he did it, but the evidence didn't prove he did it," Smith says. "And that's exactly what a jury's supposed to do, and in a case like this it takes guts."
At the end, Ream still walked out in handcuffs.
The jury foreman said to Local 6 after the trial that it was a very difficult deliberation, but in the end every juror agreed on the conviction. But they said they wanted to send a message with that maximum sentence.
The judge will sentence Ream June 3.
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