City man convicted of animal cruelty
A Williamsport man was found guilty in Lycoming County Court Friday on cruelty to animal charges.
Judge Marc Lovecchio made the ruling against Keith Chambers, 1611 Bloomingrove Road, following nearly daylong testimony in the non-jury trial.
Both Chambers and his wife, Deann Chambers, had been charged by Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals following removal of three horses, a cat and 10 dogs from their property.
Deann Chambers plead guilty to the charges in 2012.
The couple failed to initially appear for the trial Friday, and it was only after county law enforcement personnel brought the pair to the courtroom in handcuffs that proceedings were able to continue at mid-morning.
Lovecchio ruled that the prosecution was able to prove that Keith Chambers was responsible for the duties of caring for the animals.
He stated that at the very minimum he had equitable ownership of the animals by virtue of his marriage to Deann. In addition, he noted that Chambers lived at the address where the animals were kept.
“Testimony showed the dogs were in serious risk of harm or death,” the judge said.
Defense attorney John Piazza argued that there was no real evidence that Keith Chambers owned the animals.
“As much as I deplore how the horses and dogs were treated, Chambers has no responsibility for their care,” he said.
Piazza argued it was Deann Chambers who admitted to owning the dogs and horses.
He said it was important to note that Chambers was being prosecuted under the crimes code, not the dog law.
Assistant district attorney Melissa Kalaus said it was clear that Keith Chambers owned the animals.
She noted that any person who lives on the premises where animals are kept has responsibility for them.
She referred to testimony from SPCA Human Officer Lawrence Woltz who said he found Chambers at the property where the animals were kept.
Kalaus cited Keith Chambers’ statement in his hearing before District Judge Gary Whiteman when he was quoted in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette as saying, “If I didn’t care about those animals, why did I spend so much on vet bills? If I neglect my animals, why didn’t they take all of them? Why leave some of them there?”
Kalaus also dismissed testimony from Deann Chambers who under questioning could not recall bringing complaints against her husband for mistreatment of animals.
“She has no regard for the truth,” Kalaus said.
Chambers is set to be sentenced July 18.