A 56-year-old woman was sentenced to 33 years in prison for aggravated animal cruelty. According to the Carroll County Circuit Court, authorities found 27 dogs dead and 27 dogs alive in horrifying conditions on Black Rock Road in Hampstead in 2019.

Animal cruelty

On July 28, Judge Fred S. Hecker sentenced the suspect Laura Filler to serve 33 years in prison with seven years and seven days suspended for 11 counts of aggravated animal cruelty. Her probation was set by the court to 5 years and she is not allowed to have animals during her probation period.

The suspect will get credit for 480 days served, she has been arrested without bond since April 2019. Filler was originally charged with 109 counts, with most of them linked to animal cruelty. She pleaded guilty to 11 counts in October 2019.

Filler and her 50-year-old husband, John J, Roberts, were arrested back in April of last year after officers found 38 dogs in their house, as reported by Baltimore Sun.

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According to authorities, 11 of the 38 dogs were found dead at the property that they rented at Black Rock Road. After a few days, 16 more dogs were found in the property.

The Office of the State's Attorney for Carroll County said that Filler and her husband had been operating an unlicensed breeding operation.

Meanwhile, Roberts pleaded guilty to 11 counts of aggravate animal cruelty back in October. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison, suspending 11 years and 11 days, as reported by The New York Post.

The senior assistant state's attorney for Carroll County, Melissa Hockensmith, showed in court two videos of Filler and Robert's house after the remaining living dogs had been removed by authorities.

Hecker described the videos as a scene from a "chamber of horrors." Hockensmith said that grime was found on dog crates, the ground was covered with sludge and it was also smeared on the walls and the ceiling.

The dog food was moldy and was littered around the house. The remains of the dead dogs were piled in the bathtub and they were decaying when the authorities discovered it. Some of the remains were placed in the shed.

 The sentence

 The state has requested Filler to serve the same sentence that was given to Roberts. Janette DeBoissiere and Lee McNulty, Filler's public defenders, appealed for 6 years with 2 years suspended.

The court called Joanna Brandt, a psychiatrist, who testified that Filler has battered spouse syndrome. Brandt has also diagnosed Filler of having three mental health disorders.

According to Filler's defense team, she was abused and controlled by her husband and that he was the main reason for what happened on their property. Filler's defense team said their client's role in the whole incident was abetting and aiding.

Filler was ordered to pay $10,900 to the Humane Society of Carroll County. The Humane Society of Carroll County took the remaining dogs. She was also ordered by the court to pay $91,400 in restitution to the Dennis and Sharon Chiodi Living Trust. The Dennis and Sharon Chiodi Living Trust owned the house and property in Black Rock Road.

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