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Charged with animal cruelty, Ossipee woman contests evidence

Union Leader Correspondence

February 25. 2016 7:15PM

OSSIPEE — The woman accused of 21 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty is asking a judge to reconsider his ruling on evidence in her upcoming trial.

On July 10, 2015, authorities executed a search warrant at Sweet Paws Spa & Inn and the Sweet Tails Animal Rescue, both of which are located at 1800 Route 16 in Center Ossipee, and found seven cats and 59 dogs in what they described as “deplorable conditions,” including living in filth as well as being malnourished and dehydrated.

Some of the animals were believed to have been rescues and all were later taken to animal shelters in the Mount Washington Valley and Lakes Region. Laurinda Miller, the operator of both Sweet Paws and Sweet Tails, was arrested.

Miller pleaded “not guilty” and late last year filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the credibility of the witness who made the complaint to Ossipee police had not been “adequately weighed under the circumstances in granting the search warrant.”

Miller also asserted that the search warrant should be suppressed “because it was overbroad and should not have included the home that was immediately adjacent to, although not connected to, the building where the animals were housed.”

In an order issued Feb. 12, however, Ossipee District Court Judge James Patten ruled against Miller, saying the state’s interest extended “to the defendant’s business operation in taking in and housing animals, not just the animals themselves. As such the basis for searching any structures on the property for such records was supported by the probable-cause allegations being made, and the request and warrant to do so was not overbroad.”

On Wednesday, Miller, through Justin Littlefield, her public defender, asked Patten to reconsider his ruling, saying that he had never acted on her claim of lack of connection between her business and her residence.

There was “no reason to believe,” Littlefield wrote, that the informant who tipped off Ossipee police “had any knowledge of animals or documents being located within the defendant’s residence. The only allegations contained within the affidavit refer to the defendant’s place of business and not her home. Given that these are two distinct locations and are actually separate buildings, there was no nexus between the information in the affidavit and the defendant’s home.”

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