DOVER — A lawyer for a Middleton man with a history of animal abuse is arguing that evidence used to support current charges against him was obtained illegally because law enforcement did not have a search warrant or consent to be on his property.
Albert Colburn, 79, who lives on Route 153, was indicted in May on charges he starved three dogs, leading to the death of “Black Velvet” and a dog with an unknown name, as well as the malnourishment of a German pointer named “Magic Mike.”
A concerned citizen called the Middleton Police Department on Feb. 21 and reported the animals were being neglected. Patrolman Michael McNeil and Animal Control Officer Theresa Jones went to Colburn’s house around 1:30 p.m.
The officers noticed the water buckets were partially covered in snow and ice. Two buckets containing water were frozen solid.
McNeil and Jones asked if they could look around, and Colburn allegedly agreed. When they went into a kennel, they found one of the dead dogs.
Jones checked the remainder of the outside buildings and found “Black Velvet” inside a second kennel.
Colburn’s attorney, Stuart Dedopoulos, questions the authority McNeil and Jones had to be at the premises and has requested a hearing on a motion to suppress evidence found there. That has been scheduled for Nov. 26.
Assistant County Attorney Patrick Conroy argues that Colburn consented to having McNeil and Jones look around his property.
“The police officers had an implied license to approach the defendant’s door to speak with him, and any observations they made during that time are admissible under the plain view exception of the warrant requirement. Second, the defendant’s consent to search was valid as it was free, knowing and voluntary under the New Hampshire and United States Constitution,” Conroy wrote in his objection.
Colburn has a history of problems with animals. On June 23, 2010, he was convicted of 11 counts of animal cruelty in Rochester district court.
Colburn was banned from owning or caring for animals for three years after extreme animal hoarding was discovered at that time.
If convicted on the current charges, which are all Class B felonies, Colburn could face up to 21 years in prison.