Middletown woman indicted for animal cruelty; 4th felony case pending in Butler County

A Middletown woman has been indicted on felony animal cruelty charges after three dogs, one dead, were found tied up outside under frozen blankets in January, according to animal control officers.

Mary J. Grace, 41, of the 2600 block of Cincinnati-Dayton Road, was arrested after the Jan. 17 incident, and the case was bound over to a Butler County grand jury.

On Wednesday, the grand jury returned indictments for three counts of cruelty to companion animals, a fifth-degree felony, and three counts of confinement of dogs, a third-degree misdemeanor.

According to court documents, animal control officer Jamie Hearlihy was dispatched to the Grace residence to check on three dogs in back of the house. She found two pitbull type dogs and a Labrador retriever mix in plastic crates with frozen blankets in them. All three dogs were tied on 6- to 10-foot tethers.

When Hearlihy spoke to Grace, she said she didn’t want to talk outside because “it was cold,” according to the report. Grace was told to bring the dogs inside, but she “refused to do so as she did not have room in the house for three large dogs.”

Grace surrendered the dogs to the officer to be taken to a shelter. When Hearlihy checked on them one was dead and the other two were very thin with ribs showing, according to the report.

Grace is free on bond and is scheduled to be arraigned March 27 by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard.

This is the fourth felony animal abuse case pending in Butler County. Others include:

  • Ronda Murphy of Madison Twp. is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in Butler County Common Pleas Court to 12 counts of animal cruelty — eight of which are fifth-degree felonies. Murphy, 40, was charged last summer after more than 90 dogs, some dead, were seized from her properties.
  • Katie Still, 31, of Hanover Twp. is awaiting trial on one count of felony cruelty to companion animals and a a second-degree misdemeanor of the same charge. She was arraigned last week in Butler County Common Pleas Court and is free on bond. Still was charged in December when Butler County deputy dog wardens conducted a welfare check on property in the 6000 block of Oxford Milford Road and found a decomposing dog in a wire cage and a “severely” emaciated horse, according to the sheriff’s office and court reports.
  • Zhean Bai, 27, was arrested Feb. 6 at his residence at Oxford West Apartments on Ogden Court for allegedly causing grave injuries to a cat in Hamilton that later was euthanized. Last week a Butler County grand jury indicted Bai on one count of cruelty to companion animal, a fifth-degree felony. Bai was arraigned March 14 in Butler County Common Pleas Court, where Judge Keith Spaeth continued $50,000 bond. He is free on bond and is scheduled to be back in court April 11 for a pretrial hearing.

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