Columbia Woman Not Guilty in Case of 40 Dead Animals

Jurors found Elizabeth Lindenau not guilty of 18 counts of animal neglect.


A Columbia woman was found not guilty of 18 counts of animal neglect by a jury at Howard County Circuit Court on Friday, after a lengthy trial in which her husband took responsibility for the dead animals.

After the verdict was read, Elizabeth Lindenau went to the back of courtroom where her husband, Brady Decker, was sitting and gave him a hug, according to Howard County state's attorney spokesperson Wayne Kirwan.

Lindenau, her attorney and Decker declined to comment immediately after the verdict was read and quickly left the courthouse.

In a press release issued by Jonathan Smith, Lindenau's attorney, about an hour after the verdict was issued, Lindenau stated, "I am relieved that the jury was willing to listen to the facts, and see past the emotional nature of this tragedy... I loved all of the animals, and it broke my heart that they died."

"There was massive evidence of Ms. Lindenau's innocence from the very beginning," wrote Smith. "The prosecutors chose to turn a blind eye to the truth... This case consumed twelve trial days; sixteen county citizens sacrificed their time to hear the case. These resources should have been devoted to prosecuting violent criminals."

Assitant state's attorney Tricia Cecil said the verdict was not justice for the animals.

"I think we put forward the best case we had," said Cecil who prosecuted the case with assistant state's attorney Tiffany Vaira.

Judge Louis A. Becker  on 22 counts of animal cruelty before closing statements began on Thursday afternoon.

Lindenau was first arrested and charged with animal cruelty after police officers in her and her husband's Columbia townhouse on Lambeth Court on Jan. 16.

Lindenau's trial began on Aug. 22. Decker testified that the animals . He said he stopped feeding the animals in mid-December after one of his beloved cockatoos died.

Decker was charged with 69 counts of animal cruelty in July and is currently awaiting trial.

on Tuesday and Wednesday that she had moved out of the Columbia townhouse in April after a dispute with a neighbor. She relocated to her parents' house on Hundred Drums Row and claimed to have only returned to the townhouse one time, to feed the animals being stored there while her husband was away on business in August.

The couple kept birds, cats and rabbits at the home.

Lindenau testified the animals had died until the day of the police raid when Decker told her. That day she said she took Decker to the hospital and admitted him to a mental ward after he said he was going to kill himself. He stayed in the hospital for seven days.

In closing statements on Thursday evening, Cecil described Lindenau as a person with money troubles, who had too many animals and was afraid people would discover the mess she and her husband had created.

Cecil described Lindenau as the one who acquired animal after animal with little thought as to how she would take care of them. She described Decker as "the helper" and "the muscle."

"Brady Decker was not the type of person that would be tasked with taking care of 20-plus animals and the defendant knew this," said Cecil. "If these animals were so beloved, so cherished, why did the defendant leave them behind?"

Lindenau's attorney, Smith, described the state's case as "more of a persecution than a prosecution."

He said there was no direct evidence linking Lindenau to the Lambeth Court townhouse at any time before the deaths could have been prevented.

Smith said Decker was overwhelmed with taking care of the animals, snapped and was too afraid to explain to his wife what had happened.

 "[Decker] knew the implications on his wife and marriage as a result of what he did," said Smith.

The verdict brings an end to a trial that has gone on since Aug. 22, encompassing 12 days of testimony and a day of jury deliberations.

Many of the animals that died in the house were adopted by Lindenau, according to testimony during the trial. Lindenau, 40, was serving as an executive director of a bird rescue organization before the dead animals were discovered.

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DawnP September 10, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Voice of the Voiceless September 16, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Since when is trying to get justice for 40 lost lives a witch hunt? And if her husband is admitting guilt, why is he pleading not guilty to the charges against him?
sheri perini September 17, 2012 at 03:57 AM
The evidence was she is the 501C3 they are suppose to protect the animals that they have in their rescue..She did not do that. It was her responsibility..The whinpy husband should have stayed in the looney place with her.. Disgraceful. She has 40 plus other animals in her new home that her mother left her. That is when she moved..No electric? The financial statement on the 1023 form with the IRS we will have that audited from that so called rescue..Boycott this rescue!!!! What was her mission statement????God help these poor animals..This sickens me along with the courts...What comes around goes around baby..
Voice of the Voiceless September 17, 2012 at 11:06 AM
Sheri, her mother didn't "leave" the house to her. When her parents moved to GA to live with her brother, they arranged to buy the house. She herself stated she was still moving out of the townhouse as late as October, so she was not telling the truth in court when she said she hadn't been there since August. But, you are correct that she was indeed responsible for the animals and their care. Not only morally, but legally as well. The truth will come out.
Voice of the Voiceless October 22, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Johnny, the animals got into the freezer because they had died over time and were put into the freezer as they passed. It is not known how these animals died because, by freezing the remains, a necropsy cannot be performed to find an accurate cause of death. The ones that died slowly by starvation and neglect were found dead in their cages and around the townhouse.


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