MANATEE -- A judge will continue to hear arguments in the defense attempt to suppress evidence against two owners of a East Manatee County animal shelter charged with animal cruelty and fraud.
Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary, 20010 State Road 64 E., was raided Feb. 5 in a multi-agency effort led by the Manatee Sheriff's Office.
Law officers confiscated about 300 animals found in deplorable conditions and uncovered the remains of 20 others.
Alan and Sheree Napier were arrested April 17 as part of an investigation and then arrested a second time June 2 to face additional charges.
Alan Napier is facing one count of scheming to defraud $50,000, three counts of solic
iting to defraud and 15 counts of animal cruelty.
Sheree Napier is facing 14 counts of animal cruelty, one count of scheming to defraud $50,000 and one count of soliciting to defraud.
The couple appeared Tuesday afternoon before Circuit Judge Charles Roberts.
Without sufficient time to hear all the arguments because proceedings started later in the day, Roberts ruled on only the first motion and continued the hearing until 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Roberts denied part of the first motion to suppress evidence obtained from excavation of a shallow grave containing animal remains. He agreed to suppress evidence from eight additional horses seized at two other Napier properties in the days following the raid.
Bid to suppress evidence
On Wednesday, the defense will motion to suppress evidence obtained with the search warrant.
Sheree Napier's defense attorney, Jennifer Joynt-Sanchez, made the arguments for both cases, calling several witnesses.
Sgt. Rob Hendrickson's testimony described the conditions of horses seized in raids following the first one.
"Due to the totality of the circumstance, we felt they were not being treated right and so we seized them under statute," Hendrickson said.
The defense claimed inconsistencies in his testimony and called it a vicious effort by law enforcement.
"I am asking you not to believe Sgt. Hendrickson," Joynt-Sanchez said. "They should have slowed down and got another warrant."
Assistant State Attorney Garrett Franzen argued successfully against suppressing evidence as a result of the excavation. Officials were looking for evidence of animal abuse and excavating remains from a shallow grave fell within the warrant guidelines, the judge ruled.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.