Animal cruelty charge upgraded to felony in Rochester case

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(ABC 6 News) – A Rochester woman’s charge of gross misdemeanor mistreatment/torture of an animal has been upgraded to a felony charge ahead of her Thursday court appearance.

Angela Fawn Spears will appear in Olmsted County Court on burglary, damage to property, drug possession and animal torture charges after allegedly breaking into a Rochester apartment and killing the owners’ cat.

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On Monday, July 11, the State of Minnesota submitted an updated criminal complaint in the case, charging Spears with felony animal torture, instead of a gross misdemeanor charge.

According to court documents, the maximum punishment for a gross misdemeanor charge of animal torture is one year in jail, up to $3,000 fine, or both.

The maximum punishment for a felony charge of animal overwork/mistreatment-torture is 2 years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.

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According to Minnesota law, a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor charge of animal torture is standard, but the charge can be upgraded under certain circumstances: if the animal is a service animal, if the harm is done to intimidate, harass, or threaten another person, or if an individual again violates the law against cruelty to animals after a previous conviction.

Spears’ next appearance in this case is scheduled for Aug. 10, 2022.

The cat’s owner, Kaylee Pearson, says her cat, Joey, was taken to the University of Minnesota where they are working to determine his cause of death.

Pearson said she’s pleased with the upgraded felony charge and that it’s bringing them closer to justice.

"I’ve never been through anything like this, and I want to say I’ve been feeling better, but there hasn’t been a day where I just haven’t broken down completely because I miss him," she said.

Pearson says ultimately she wants Spears to get some help, but would like to see some prison time for the pain Spears has caused.