SUMMERDALE, Ala. (WALA - Sources told FOX10 News the suspects in a shocking animal cruelty case will plead guilty Friday . We've also discovered, the plea deal may keep the suspects out of jail.
It appears it's a pretty good deal for the suspects. Roberta and Sharon Duiett were arrested by Summerdale Police last year when officers found some 200 animals in deplorable conditions.
It started as a rescue shelter, but last year officers found ‘Purple Hearted Puppies' was anything but. Officers discovered cats, dogs, horses and livestock left abandoned and starved for weeks.
From the beginning, officials were predicting a harsh punishment for the Dueitts.
"They would each be facing 20 felony charges and potentially up to 150 to 200 misdemeanors," said a Summerdale officer when we interviewed him last January.
According to sources, the pair will plead guilty to one felony and one misdemeanor.
They'll have to enter a pre-trial intervention program and they'll get probation. That means the pair would not see jail time unless they violated their probation.
Were also told, part of the deal could include a large amount of restitution paid to the rescue organizations that put their blood sweat and tears into saving the survivors.
It's cases and outcomes like this that inspired Linda Dooley to write House Bill 27.
"I planned on putting this bill through before; but once I heard this case, it's what really put the fire under me," said Dooley.
FOX10 News has been pushing the bill that would strengthen the penalties for animal cruelty.
Dooley said it would not only allow a stricter sentence it makes it easier to prosecute.
As it stands, to prove cruelty you have to prove malicious intent.
"It's very difficult to prove intent. It's hard to know what's in the mind of somebody else," said Dooley.
The bill changes the law to focus on the act.
"The act will be the only thing the prosecutor will have to prove. That the act is malicious or the act was reckless or the act was knowingly or the act was with criminal negligence," said Dooley.
As for the Duietts plea deal, we reached out to Baldwin County District Attorney Hallie Dixon, but her office said she wouldn't comment.
It will ultimately be up to a judge to accept the deal.
We also learned Thursday, that a plea deal is in the works for Sharon Dueitt for her case of animal cruelty out of Robertsdale.
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