Nearly three years after Sheree Napier was sentenced for convictions of animal abuse and fraud in connection to the East Manatee animal rescue she owned with her husband, a judge ordered her to return to jail.
Napier had served only part of her sentence when she was released on bond while an appeal made its way through the courts. Earlier this month, however, the Second District Court of Appeals upheld the conviction.
The investigation into Sheree Napier and her husband, Alan Napier, drew community outrage after a law enforcement raid of Napier’s Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary, 20010 State Road 64 E., led by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office found more than 300 animals living in atrocious conditions and the remains of 20 other animals.
Sheree Napier was convicted of eight counts of aggravated animal abuse and one count of scheming to defraud. Alan Napier was convicted of eight counts of aggravated animal abuse, one count of scheming to defraud and one count of unlawful solicitation.
Alan Napier was released from prison on Aug. 20 and is currently on probation.
On Wednesday, Sheree Napier was remanded into custody when she appeared before Circuit Judge Charles Sniffen.
Her public defender, Jennifer Joynt-Sanchez, argued that she should be allowed to remain out on bond until a pending motion seeking to modify her sentence can be heard. Sniffen found himself in a predicament, because he was not positive whether he had the legal authority to modify the sentence.
The case was on Sniffen’s docket because the presiding judge, Circuit Judge Peter Dubensky, has since retired and the assigned trial division eliminated. But as a result, it was unclear if he could modify the sentence, but based on his quick review of the case, it would require him to become familiar with the case.
Assistant State Attorney Garrett Franzen argued that Napier’s conviction had been upheld, and she had already been sentenced so legally she needed to surrender and continue serving her jail-time regardless if a modification was considered at a later date.
Ultimately, Sheree Napier was ordered into the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office custody to be taken to jail.
On Thursday, all involved will appear before Sniffen to discuss if and how to proceed. If a hearing is held to modify the sentence, it will have to be within 60 days of the court of appeals March 2 mandate.
The defense is seeking to have Napier’s sentence of 270 days in jail reduced to time served for the 81 days she previously served, to be followed by three years of probation.