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Sheriff’s deputies to present animal shelter evidence to district attorney again

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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Sheriff B.J. Barnes told FOX8 his deputies will present information and evidence to the district attorney’s office again Monday in the animal shelter cruelty case they’ve been investigating.

“I’m appreciative of the fact they’re willing to relook at what they have here and what we have. It is the same cases, but as we explained to them, maybe you missed something the first time that we found,” Barnes said in an interview Friday.

During a press conference last Thursday, Barnes announced former animal shelter director Marsha Williams was served with five misdemeanor citations for cruelty to animals.

Barnes was joined by North Carolina First Lady Ann McCrory and Guilford County Commissioner Hank Henning.

The Sheriff also requested the cases be sent to Davidson County’s D.A. for prosecution, citing the possibility of conflicts of interest between Guilford County prosecutors and members of the now-inactive United Animal Coalition Board.

The UAC is the group that ran the shelter in Davidson and Guilford counties.

Friday, District Attorney Doug Henderson released a statement saying he previously decided there was not sufficient evidence, “to merit criminal prosecution for misdemeanor animal cruelty.”

He also said they were aware Barnes had decided to serve the five counts to Williams anyway. He added, if “some additional evidence may have been developed over the course of the past couple of weeks … we will determine at that time how, if at all, these misdemeanor charges should proceed. That decision will be dictated by evidence and the applicable law. It will not be influenced by emotion, sentiment or surmise.”

Henderson did not address the sheriff’s suggestion to move the cases to Davidson County.

The sheriff said he believes his deputies can prove Williams was aware of cruelty and neglect at the shelter and was ultimately responsible for all decisions.

“We have witnesses, many, many witnesses who can and will testify that every decision that was made including those of life and death were made by Marsha. So that makes her accountable as far as I’m concerned,” he explained.

Barnes said there were more than 65 examples of cruelty documented by the state, including animals with open wounds and broken bones that were not being treated. He said investigators also found stacks of dead animals in a freezer.

He can’t forget those images. “They’re horrendous. Any time you allow an animal to lay there and suffer as long as these laid there and suffered, without taking some kind of action, that’s just wrong,” he said. “Someone must be held responsible.”

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