Racine County Circuit Court Judge Michael Piontek told Randolph Zich, a defendant in an animal abuse case, on Monday that he would not agree to the terms of a plea deal struck between his attorney and the prosecuting attorney, according to a story by the Journal Times.

Racine County Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Sommers told Piontek that the plea agreement included an unspecified period of jail time, two to three years of probation and that he never own pets. But Piontek killed the agreement saying that it wasn’t “in the public interest.”

Yvonne Petersen-Zich and Randolph Zich were charged last year in Racine County Circuit Court with one misdemeanor charge of child neglect, three felony charges of mistreatment to animals leading to death and 13 counts of misdemeanor charges of mistreatment of animals. If convicted, they faced up to 21 years in jail and/or up to $170,000 in fines.

Petersen-Zich, 49, of Caledonia, was sentenced in December to serve 60 days in the Racine County Jail after being convicted of three misdemeanor charges of failing to provide an animal with adequate shelter.

According to the criminal complaint, Caledonia police answered a call of family trouble at 8:14 p.m. March 4 at 4930 Mary Drew Drive. When officers arrived, they found Petersen-Zich crying, and she told them to not mind the house because it wasn’t clean.

Police say 14 cats and three dogs – along with the Zich’s teenage child – were found living in squalor. Two dogs were suffering from malnutrition and other health conditions. One dog and a cat were euthanized because of their poor health, and a second dog died the day after being removed from the home as a result of “suspected cardiac failure and metabolic disease.”

But Sommers told the court that they were unable to make the argument that Zich caused the second dog’s death and the cat had several other health problems. The other cats were “essentially healthy,” according to the Journal Times story.

However, Piontek explained that was what trials were for and rejected the plea agreement. A jury trial has been set for Sept. 21.

 

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.