MEMPHIS, TN— It's not over and justice will be served. Animal advocates are angry about the "not guilty" verdict in the Angela Middleton trial. She was the former Memphis Animal Shelter veterinarian who was on trial for animal cruelty, involving three dead dogs. ABC24 News was the only station there when the verdict came in Saturday October 27. Middleton made it apparent she wasn't happy with our presence.
The jury found Angela Middleton "not guilty" on all six counts of aggravated animal cruelty. She was charged in 2009 after a raid on the Memphis Animal Shelter. Sheriff deputies found abused, starved, and dead animals. Despite the verdict, animal lovers say Middleton is partially to blame.
The jury spent more than 4 hours deliberating Saturday night. Finally, everyone agreed Doctor Angela Middleton was innocent of animal cruelty. Her family was overjoyed and started screaming “hallelujah!” and “thank God!” Middleton was happy too but not with ABC24 News. When I asked her how she felt about the verdict this is what she said, “I feel great. Get away from me,” and slapped the microphone away.
Minutes later, she gave us a "one finger salute."
"That was just totally disrespectful on so many levels and more or less it's an indicator of her character,” said animal advocate Debi Berry.
Berry has been following the case since the beginning and is upset Middleton was off the hook.
“Anyone who walks by a crate and sees an animal in need, starving, ribs sticking out, and doesn't do something whether it's a whistle blower or go buy a bag of dog food, or whatever the case they're just as guilty,” said Berry.
Middleton's attorneys say she did everything she could to help the starving animals and that everyone who testified including animal technicians and volunteers knew Middleton was a good person.
"It is vindication to some extent that all the media and reporters and the things that have been coming out have been extremely unfair to Dr. Middleton and those 12 people had an opportunity to hear from the people who were there,” said Middleton’s attorney Paul Springer.
Berry isn't convinced. She says all who testified were Middleton's friends and defended her actions.
"They put their friends up there and tell how the jury how wonderful people they are, and how wonderful they are in church but the facts remain that these animals are being abused,” said Berry. “It seems that no matter what happens at the shelter no one is held accountable for that and that's very disheartening."
It's uncertain whether Middleton will work at another shelter but what is not uncertain her opinion of the media.
Former shelter administrator Ernie Alexander and former employee Tina Quattlebaum were also charged with animal cruelty related to that 2009 raid. Their trials are expected to begin Monday morning.