Psychiatric Test Ordered
Psychiatric test ordered in animal-cruelty case
Maryland Sun 9/13/06 Reporter Mary Gale Hare
Donna Lee Bell, the woman accused of hoarding more than 100 dogs in two Harford County
homes, entered a plea of not criminally responsible yesterday in Harford District Court , and agreed to undergo psychiatric evaluation before further legal proceedings.Bell, 59, will have an out-patient evaluation within about a month, most likely at Spring Grove, a state-run hospital for the mentally ill in Baltimore , County, her attorney said. The examining psychiatrist could forward Bell’s case to a panel of experts that would conduct a more in-depth study.
Bell “recognizes that she needs psychological help and is getting that now,” said her attorney, Leonard H. Shapiro. “This situation has been really traumatic for her.”
Judge Lawrence S. Lanahan Jr. postponed further proceedings to allow for the evaluation.
In May, Bell was arrested and charged with 118 counts of animal cruelty after dozens of dogs and several cats were found living amid filth and carcasses in her two Whiteford properties.Each misdemeanor cruelty count carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.The Humane Society of Harford County, which has sheltered the animals, has received nearly $20,000 in donations to in her care and has found homes for many of them.