Woman gets jail
for animal cruelty

Almost 100 cats and dogs were
found in the Maui woman's home

WAILUKU >> A Haiku, Maui, woman convicted of animal cruelty after authorities removed 96 cats and dogs from her home has been ordered to serve 15 consecutive weekends in jail.

Maui District Court Judge Rhonda Loo ordered Marlyn Jean Bermudez, 59, yesterday to also pay $1,175 in court fees, serve a year of probation and undergo a mental health assessment.

Loo said that while on probation Bermudez can possess no more than her current three dogs and three cats, all of whom have been fixed, and that she must submit to unscheduled inspections by the Maui Humane Society.

On Jan. 4, 2002, humane society workers removed 82 dogs and 14 cats from her three-bedroom home at West Lelehuna Place, including a dog that apparently had been killed by other dogs.

Society officials said the conditions in the house were unsanitary and that the floors were covered with dog feces and urine.

The humane society found homes for a cat and two dogs, and four other dogs were transferred to an animal sanctuary in Utah. The remaining animals, a number in poor health, were destroyed.

Under her no-contest plea to 20 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, Bermudez could have received up to 20 years in prison and a $40,000 fine, authorities said.

Bermudez is expected to begin serving her sentence at the Maui Community Correctional Center at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Loo said Bermudez fits the classic symptoms of a "hoarder," but instead of collecting Beanie Babies or stamps, she kept animals and in unhealthy conditions that made many of them un-adoptable.

Loos said Bermudez was not mean or cruel, but the lack of care led to the euthanization of most of the animals.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Simonds had asked for 90 days in jail, but Loo suspended 60 of the 90 days.

Defense attorney David Sereno, who asked that Bermudez serve no jail time, said his client needs mental health treatment.

"We can begin to cure the problem by helping to cure Jean," he said.

Sereno said Bermudez thought she could take care of the animals. "I think things got out of control and she ended up in this situation," Sereno said.

He said Bermudez knows better now.

"She was doing it for love, as misplaced as it might have been," he said.

Loo acquitted Bermudez's husband, Timothy, of 85 counts of animal cruelty on June 27 after she determined there was insufficient evidence.


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