Man withdraws plea in animal abuse case

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Cape Girardeau man withdrew his guilty plea for animal cruelty when faced with prison time.

Eric L. Ford, 45, of 259 N. Park Ave., withdrew the plea last week and entered a plea of not guilty to the felony. Ford also asked for a new judge in the case to replace Circuit Judge David Dolan, who was ready to send Ford to prison.

He is accused of taking a cat owned by Camilla Coy of Cape Girardeau and squeezing it, throwing it against a wall and stomping on it.

The cat died in the incident, which took place Aug. 14, 2004.

The case was moved to Mississippi County on a change of venue. In a plea bargain, Ford agreed to plead guilty in exchange for probation. Cape Girardeau County prosecutor Morley Swingle has said his office was ready to recommend up to 60 days shock incarceration before Ford could begin probation.

But on Sept. 13, Dolan rejected probation because of findings in a pre-sentence investigation.

Under Missouri court rules, if a judge rejects a plea agreement, the plea can be withdrawn.

No more action will take place in the case until a new judge is assigned by the Missouri Supreme Court.

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