Judge Won't Change Shelter Owner's Sentence Without Animals' Medical Records
The new attorney for Dawn Hamill, owner of Dazzle's Painted Pastures Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, wants the judge to reconsider her order to allow the return of animals taken from Hamill's shelter.
A Cook County judge refused Thursday to alter an order forcing animal shelter owner Dawn Hamill to give up all but five of her personal animals. The order was part of her sentence after she was convicted in September on eight misdemeanor counts of violations of owner's duties.
Hamill, 43, was charged with those eight misdemeanor counts, as well as two counts of animal cruelty, in connection to the condition of animals that were found during a Feb. 11, 2011, raid on Dazzle's Painted Pastures Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Tinley Park. Eight puppies were reportedly discovered in cold, filthy conditions, leading to her Sept. 14 conviction of the violation of owner's duties charges. The animal cruelty charges she was acquitted on were related to a miniature horse and Himalayan cat found dead on the property.
Lawrence Beaumont, Hamill's new attorney, went to court Thursday, Oct. 18, to ask Judge Anna Helen Demacopolous if the she would reconsider Hamill's sentence and allow for the return of five dogs and five horses taken from her property before the animals are potentially adopted out by the Animal Welfare League. At the very least, Beaumont asked the judge to halt any adoptions by the agency.
An alternate prosecutor appeared for the state; Assistant State's Attorney Richard Stake Jr. was out of town and his co-counsel, ASA Sarah Naughton, is still on administrative leave, pending misdemeanor battery and criminal trespassing charges in an unrelated case.
Demacopolous told Beaumont that she needed to see medical records for all of the animals Hamill was asking for in order to ensure those animals were in good condition when they were taken from the property. The judge said she also has no jurisdiction over what the Animal Welfare League does with the animals.
"I only have jurisdiction over Miss Hamill. And what she can do," Demacopolous said.
A spokeswoman for the Animal Welfare League said she did not know what the agency was planning to do in light of Hamill's court request. Nor did she know if any of the animals the league recovered from Hamill's shelter had already been adopted.
As Demacopolous asked Beaumont which animals Hamill was asking for, Hamill interjected, "May I say something?"
"No," Demacopolous said, curtly.
It was one of several tense moments during the roughly 20-minute hearing in Demacopolous' Markham courtroom.
The judge would not yield on allowing Hamill to have more animals, continuing to designate her as an animal hoarder. At sentencing, Demacopolous ordered that the return of Hamill's animals would depend on the results of a psychiatric evaluation.
That evaluation was submitted to the judge, prosecutors and Hamill, and while the records are sealed by law, they were discussed in open court Thursday.
"She's not a compulsive animal hoarder; she doesn't have obsessive compulsive disorder," Beaumont said, gesturing toward a file folder.
"Counsel, do you really want to make [the psychiatric evaluation] of record?" Demacopolous asked with a slight nod toward the gallery. "I have found that she is an animal hoarder by statute. I have a deep concern that she does not appreciate the severity of keeping that many animals alone."
Demacopolous also questioned Hamill's finances and appeared incredulous when Beaumont said Hamill is indigent.
"She owns four-and-half acres of property," the judge said. "She's getting in excess of $17,000 a month in donations and diamonds embedded in her chest. She has three Hummers and you're calling her indigent?"
Beaumont said the property is in foreclosure and added, "She doesn't have those vehicles you're talking about."
"File an affidavit," Demacopolous responded.
Beaumont also filed his appearance in two other pending cases against Hamill, stemming from the 2011 raid. Those cases, also misdemeanors, include charges labeled in court records as "animal welfare" and "animal control" but do not include details. Prosecutors might be close to setting a trial date in those cases.
Demacopolous said Hamill's current attorney, Purav Bhatt, must appear to either withdraw from the case or stay on as additional counsel.
Another hearing has been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 29, when Beaumont will argue his motion to have Hamill's sentence reconsidered.
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