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June 1, 2010 / V A Nichols

Update: Terra Cotromano Criminal Trial

Today’s proceedings didn’t make it past the first witness, Deputy Sheriff Dwight Sloan.

He was first questioned by Assistant  District Attorney Doug Burns of the Bessemer Judicial Circuit , and then by defendant Terra Cotromano’s attorney Lawden Yates.

Questions arose from Judge Eric. M. Fancher, and he called all attorneys to a private room for discussion.

Returning to his chair, the Judge expressed the following:

– Did the temporary restraining order, served to Ms. Cotromano, provide for entrance to the TEARS property, as a search warrant would have?

– There is the allegation that Ms. Cotromano has a 99 year lease.

The Judge determined that both sides would present their cases regarding the question and allegation, by  June 22, 2010.  There will be no hearing on that date.


It should be mentioned that TEARS Board Members, Leeanne Bennett and Beverly LePore, invited Deputy Dwight Sloan to the TEARS property.

IF Ms. Cotromano has a legitimate 99 year lease, it is for the small parcel of land upon which sits her trailer, and not the entire TEARS Town property.

Below are excerpts from the Code of Alabama’s Civil and Criminal Divisions, which bring light to Deputy Sloan’s authority to access the property, and definitions of animal cruelty.


Section 3-1-13
Right of officers, etc., of humane societies to take charge of and care for neglected or abused animals; written notice to owner from whom animal taken; lien for expenses for care and keeping of animal.

Any duly authorized officer or employee of a recognized humane society shall have the right to take charge of any animal which is sick or disabled due to neglect or is being cruelly treated or abused and to provide care for such animal until it is deemed to be in suitable condition to be returned to its owner or to the person from whose custody such animal was taken.

The officer so taking such animal shall at the time of taking the animal give written notice to the owner or person from whose custody it was taken.

The necessary expenses incurred for the care and keeping of the animal after such notice by the humane society shall be a lien thereon and, if the animal is not reclaimed within 10 days from the giving of such notice, the humane society may sell the animal to satisfy such lien. If the humane society determines that the animal cannot be sold, it may cause the animal to be otherwise disposed of.

(Acts 1961, Ex. Sess., No. 84, p. 2001.)

Section 3-1-16
Employment by county commissions of persons to enforce laws for prevention of cruelty to animals; compensation, oath and powers of same.

The county commissions of the respective counties of this state may employ a suitable person or persons who shall be charged specially with the duty of enforcing all laws for the prevention of cruelty to animals, and to fix the compensation of such officer or officers, which shall be paid in the same manner as other salaries of county employees are paid, and such officer or officers, upon taking the oath as required to be taken by deputy sheriffs, shall be vested with all powers now vested by law in deputy sheriffs.

(Acts 1911, No. 127, p. 112; Code 1923, §3217; Code 1940, T. 3, §13.)


Section 13A-11-242
Appointment of agents.

Any county or municipality may appoint one or more trained agents to inspect alleged violations of this article, to protect dogs or cats from any cruelty charged, and to prevent any cruelty to any dog or cat. Any appointment made pursuant to this section shall be made at a meeting of the local governing body duly called with notice.

(Act 2000-615, p. 1252, §3.)

Section 13A-11-243
Powers of agents, officers; liability.

(a) Any law enforcement officer and any agent of the county or the municipality appointed pursuant to Section 13A-11-242, having reasonable belief, evidence of, or having found a dog or cat to be neglected or cruelly treated may perform either of the following:

(1) Remove the dog or cat from its present location.

(2) Order the owner of the dog or cat to provide certain care to the dog or cat at the owner’s expense without the removal of the dog or cat from its present location.

(b) Neither the county or municipality, nor any employee or agent of the county or municipality, acting in good faith, shall be liable for any actions taken under this section, regardless of whether or not the dog or cat is returned to its owner after impoundment.

(Act 2000-615, p. 1252, §4.)

Section 13A-11-240

(a) The word “torture” as used in this article shall mean the act of doing physical injury to a dog or cat by the infliction of inhumane treatment or gross physical abuse meant to cause said animal intensive or prolonged pain or serious physical injury, or thereby causing death due to said act.

(b) The word “cruel” as used in this article shall mean: Every act, omission, or neglect, including abandonment, where unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering, including abandonment, is caused or where unnecessary pain or suffering is allowed to continue.

(c) The words “dog or cat” as used in this article shall mean any domesticated member of the dog or cat family.

(Act 2000-615, § 1.)

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