Woman gets 4 to 8 years for torturing ex-boyfriend's 2 dogs
Jamie Labbe, 35, was convicted by a Rockingham County jury on Aug. 22 of attempted cruelty to animals, criminal mischief and cruelty to animals. She tortured the dogs over several days between February and April 2011, feeding them metal bolts, a lighter and a shower head.
One witness told prosecutors that Labbe confided that, ';she hated the dogs,'; and became jealous over the attention her boyfriend, Kurt Kohn, gave to the pair, named Pebbles and Magic.
Her abuse so terrified the two pets they would urinate on the floor when she walked into the room, Labbe confided to her friend.
Deputy County Attorney Tom Reid relayed that anecdote along with text messages Labbe sent to her friend, Angela Gaff, during the trial. Labbe encouraged Gaff to ignore a subpoena to testify about their conversations, according to Reid.
';It shows the premeditated nature of this plan that was an ongoing thing,'; Reid said of the abuse, ';And what looks like a concerted effort to keep an important witness off the stand.';
Pebbles was later euthanized as a result of the injuries.
The case garnered its own public campaign online, including one petition that collected 1,800 signatures calling for Labbe to be barred from owning animals.
Judge Marguerite Wageling said Labbe's crime was unlike any other animal cruelty case she has seen in her 27 years of practicing law. She agreed with the sentence recommended by prosecutors, and forbid Labbe from ever owning or having control of an animal again.
';What she did to them was tremendously scary and painful,'; said Wageling, who noted at the end of the hearing that she was not a pet owner herself.
Defense lawyer Tom Gleason said that his client has suffered from a history of mental illness and had sought help at a local mental health facility two months prior to abusing the dogs.
Gleason said his client has been restricted from seeing her two children, ages 14 and 3, including one she shares with Kohn.
';She has been vilified in the press, and vilified in the public eye,'; Gleason said, arguing for a 90-day county jail sentence for his client.
He said a state prison sentence would be appropriate had a person been harmed.
Reid disagreed, but acknowledged that public outcry is oftentimes greater for animals than people who are mistreated.
';I, at times, am intrigued and troubled when I see a stronger reaction to when an animal is a victim than when a child is a victim, and that has been the case here,'; Reid said.
Labbe, who did not speak during the hearing, told probation officials that she has received death threats and ';how all of these events have been traumatic and caused her a lot of problems.';
Kohn, of Sandown, said during the hearing that he continues to suffer from his ex-girlfriend's betrayal.
';Magic will forever be shy of people and I may never trust anyone again,'; Kohn said. ';I haven't had a restful night of sleep since this happened. I believe she is not only a danger to animals but to people as well.';