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Lesser charges possible in rabbit drownings at Akron pet store

By jim Published: November 2, 2009

By Katie Byard
Beacon Journal staff writer

Oct 30, 2009

Animal-cruelty charges against a former pet-store worker accused of drowning two injured rabbits could be lowered.

Ron Gatts, attorney for Liz Carlisle, 20, of Ravenna, said he expects a change from first-degree to second-degree misdemeanors.

Gatts said the first-degree charges, which each carry up to a six-month sentence, assume the animals were ''companion animals'' in a ''residential setting.''

The rabbits were not, he said.

Second-degree charges each carry a maximum 90-day jail sentence.

Gatts said the change would not be a plea deal, but rather a recognition that wrong charges had been filed.

On Thursday, Akron Municipal Judge Stephen Fallis scheduled a jury trail for 8:30 a.m. Dec. 15. A pretrial is set for 9 a.m. Dec. 10.

Carlisle, 20, was accused of animal cruelty after a photo of her posing with two dead rabbits appeared on Facebook, the social networking Web site.

She has pleaded not guilty to two first-degree misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty.

Carlisle has drawn the wrath of activists. The Internet image appears to show her holding a small, soaked and drowned rabbit in each hand. She is seen smiling in the photo.

She and family members were at the Harold K. Stubbs Justice Center while Gatts met with a city prosecutor on Thursday. Carlisle did not speak to reporters. There was apparently just one protester inside the Stubbs Center. An initial hearing attracted at least 30 protesters.

Gatts said Carlisle has received death threats. He has advised her not to talk.

A comment on the social Internet site says the animals had been injured and were euthanized through drowning.

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.

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