Deal reached in Dinwiddie animal cruelty case

DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) - A deal is reached in the case of a Dinwiddie woman accused of mistreating horses and other animals at her farm.

Sara Johnson faces twenty animal cruelty charges.

Instead of going to trial today she entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors.  In return, her criminal case was postponed  for one year.

"She has said in 10 of those cases the evidence was sufficient for her to be guilty," said Dinwiddie Commonwealth's Attorney, Lisa Caruso.

The agreement also calls for Johnson to sign over ownership of all 94 animals seized from her property back in May.

She can not obtain animals for two years and Johnson must pay the county restitution in the amount of $15,086.

"She has already agreed to start paying $500 a month starting in October. So yes, I'm satisfied with the resolution in this matter," Caruso added.

While in Johnson's custody the seized animals were in poor shape, weak, and severely malnourished.

"Sara Johnson has never been in trouble a day in her life. Some of the animals were given to her in that shape and she had hoped to bring them back to good health," said Ned Mikula, Johnson's attorney. "Johnson has spent a good part of her adult life taking care of animals," Mikula explained.

According to Dinwiddie County Animal Control, the seized animals are healthy and happy. In fact, all of them have been adopted and will be placed in their new homes starting Monday.

Johnson has ten horses and several dogs on her property that she'll be able to keep.

As part of that plea agreement, Animal Control can go onto her property to inspect the condition of those animals.

Johnson is due back in court in September 2013.

If she complies with the terms in the plea agreement, charges could be dropped. If not - her case could go to trial.

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