RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The jury has reached its verdict in the trial of a 60-year-old woman accused of allowing a dog fighting operation to be run out of her south Richmond home.
The jury has convicted Ardeller Morris on two counts. The first is felony allowing a dog fighting operation on her property, and the second conviction is a misdemeanor animal cruelty.
It's the harshest sentence ever given in a dog fighting case in Virginia. 33-year-old Richard Robinson is serving 10 years in prison.
"Richard Robinson got exactly what he deserved - a previous dog fighter with the gall to start it all over in our city. Ten years to sit and think about what he did, and hopefully not do it again," said Alex Taylor who Prosecuted Robinson's Case.
He was running his dog fighting operation out of this south Richmond home on Wright Avenue. He shared it with his mother, 60-year-old Ardeller Morris.
Last June Animal Control seized 12 pitbulls from the property. Two so badly injured they couldn't stand. One 51-pound dog was shackled with a 52-pound chain.
"That's not how typically keep a pet," said Jody Jones with Richmond Animal Control.
In the end, 10 dogs were put down. Prosecutors say gruesome devices used to train the dogs to fight and be aggressive were found in the backyard and basement. They say dog fighting medications, supplements, and magazines were found upstairs. They say several dogs had visible injuries that Morris could have seen from the back deck.
But the defense attorney for Morris says her client lived upstairs, had a separate entrance, mailbox, even a separate phone line. The defense says Morris is diabetic and wanted her son, Robinson around for emergencies and had no idea what he was up to.
Again, a jury of seven women and five men found Ardeller Morris guilty of allowing a dog fighting operation on her property in south Richmond and of misdemeanor animal cruelty. The jury recommended no jail time and a fine totaling $3000. Formal sentencing will be on September 1. Also, as part of the conviction, she's not allowed to own any more animals the rest of her life.