At the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse on Dec. 27, jurors deliberated on the future of Cynthia Walsh, the 57-year-old Edna Valley resident charged in one of the largest animal abuse cases in regional history. Deadlocked discussion and sick jurors delayed the verdict by more than a week after final arguments concluded on Dec. 19.
Prognosis on reaching a prompt decision seemed bleak as of last week, jurors said. Nevertheless, Judge John Trice asked them to reconvene post-Christmas and give it another shot before he would sign off on a mistrial.
As of press time, the jury had not yet delivered its decision on the pending six counts of felony animal cruelty and the two misdemeanor charges of providing insufficient care. Thus far, a verdict on the one misdemeanor count of possessing more than four animals without a permit remained the only decision reached by the panel.
The well-documented case began in December 2005, when Animal Services a department under the County Sheriff reportedly pulled more than 100 animals from Walsh's three-bedroom home on a search warrant. Control officers involved in the seizure described conditions at the home as deplorable. The Edna Valley woman pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Walsh's attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, tossed a change-up during the trial by arguing that the animals received better care with Walsh than they did during the subsequent months spent with Animal Services. The defense marched a cavalcade of witnesses to the stand to testify on Walsh's behalf and of the allegedly troublesome state of affairs at the shelter.