Under the terms of a plea deal offered by prosecutors, Susan Schmidtke will stay out of jail but whether or not she’ll have the freedom to own as many animals as she wants remains up in the air.
Instead of facing up to up to 13 years in prison and/or up to $100,000 in fines if convicted of the 10 felony and misdemeanor charges against her, Schmidtke was offered the opportunity to plead guilty to three misdemeanor charges and probation instead.
Schmidtke, 68, was in court Friday for what was supposed to be her preliminary hearing on animal abuse charges but she waived the hearing in light of the plea deal offer, according to a story in The Journal Times. She did enter not-guilty pleas on a mix of 10 felony and misdemeanor charges that she kept dozens of animals in unfit conditions.
Racine County Circuit Court Judge Michael Piontek scheduled Schmidtke’s next court date for March 1, and her lawyer told the newspaper the offer for his client is “outstanding.”
“We’re going to talk about it,” Attorney Terry Rose is quoted as saying. “We’re going to consider it.”
Had the case against her gone forward without a plea deal, Schmidtke could have faced up to 13 years in prison and/or up to $100,000 in fines.
Caledonia police on Oct. 16 executed a search warrant on Schmidtke’s property seized 24 small animals with the assistance of the Wisconsin Humane Society. A number of animals remained on the property – four emus, five sheep, eight turkeys, twelve chickens, six geese, six guinea hens, seven to ten cats, approximately ten peacocks, six ponies, one llama, three donkeys, three horses.
During her hearing Friday, Schmidtke said she was concerned that the state would limit her to the number of animals she can keep, the story continues.
Several animals owned by a church for live Nativity scenes were relocated shortly after Schmidtke was first charged.
She remains free on a $10,000 signature bond.