A Columbia woman was acquitted of 22 felony animal cruelty charges Thursday afternoon after Judge Louis A. Becker decided there was insufficient evidence against her.
Elizabeth Lindenau, 40, remains charged with 18 counts of animal neglect, a misdemeanor charge with a maximum penalty of 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine per count.
"All of the evidence," said Becker, "shows a pattern of contact with animals that is directly opposite to the dictionary definition of cruel."
Becker said there was no evidence Lindenau had known or observed the conditions of the animals on or around Jan. 16, .
He said Lindenau would have to have consciously known of the pain and suffering of the animals at the townhouse.
Lindenau that she had no idea the animals had died in the townhouse because she wasn't living there.
She said she was living at her parents' house on Hundred Drums Row since April of 2011 and had only been back to the townhouse once in August.
Lindenau and her husband formerly lived together in the townhouse, but Lindenau said she moved out after a dispute with her neighbor.
Lindenau's husband, Brady Decker, during the trial that the animals at the townhouse were his responsibility.
He moved out of the townhouse to live with Lindenau on Hundreds Drum Row in November of 2011. He said he stopped caring for the animals after he discoved a beloved cockatoo dead inside the townhouse in mid-December of 2011. By that time, the power and water had been shut off in the house, according to Decker.
Decker was charged with 69 counts of animal cruelty in July and is awaiting trial.
Lindenau was on Tuesday as a "natural caregiver" who would nurse animals back to health and convince other pet owners to keep their animals if they struggled to care for them.
The 18 counts remaining against Lindenau are for failure to provide food, drink or necessary veterinarian care to animals in her care.
In March, Lindenau was with 69 counts of animal cruelty after police found 40 dead birds, cats and rabbits at a townhouse on Lambeth Court.
Before her trial started on Aug. 22, the charges were reduced to 60 counts, then 40 counts midway through the trial, and now 18 remain after Becker granted the motions of acquital Thursday afternoon.