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Motions denied in Atwood animal abuse case

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Numerous motions were submitted and denied and a trial date was set in the case of a man and woman indicted on over 150 counts related to animal abuse and neglect during an April 26 hearing in Carroll County Circuit Court.

D.J. Norton of Selmer, attorney for Donald Scott Shoenthal, 52, and Tara L. Neutzler, 43, presented motions to suppress evidence before Circuit Judge Donald Parish at the hearing.

Norton argued that the affidavit originally submitted by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department did not establish cause for the issuance of a search warrant for Shoenthal and Neutzler’s property and that the search warrant should therefore be invalidated.

Norton also asserted that the search warrant was illegally or unreasonably executed on April 8 of last year because volunteers – namely members of the American Rescue Corps and other organizations– aided deputies in the execution of the warrant.

Other claims by Norton were that the continued search for evidence by investigators after the initial execution of the search warrant was illegal or unreasonable and that the search warrant was not broad enough to allow for the testing of blood and fecal matter from the animals.

Norton submitted a motion to dismiss Shoenthal and Neutzler’s indictments due to a failure to preserve evidence by investigators.

Judge Parish denied all of these motions and set trial dates in the case for July 15-19.

Shoenthal and Neutzler were both indicted in September of last year on 34 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and 118 counts of cruelty to animals, as well as two counts of aggravated child neglect and endangerment and two counts of criminal attempt to commit aggravated child neglect and endangerment.

The two were charged in April of 2018 after deputies found around 150 animals living in deplorable conditions at a house and surrounding property owned by Shoenthal and Neutzler at 3349 Highway 79 in Atwood.

The remains of several dead animals, including a zebra, were also found on the property.

During the investigation and rescue, dangerously high levels of ammonia were detected in the house, where children had been living among the neglected animals.

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