SAN ANTONIO -- Sylvia Guerra had faced felony charges for animal cruelty in the deaths of at least 20 puppies. Thursday afternoon, a jury found her not guilty of those charges.
It took a jury most of the day Thursday to find Sylvia Guerra not guilty of animal cruelty. She was being accused of animal cruelty in her business selling Maltese poodle mix puppies in 2008.
The prosecution claimed that Guerra had 30 dogs in confined areas with Parvo and no drinking water. Attorney David Lunan said three of the dogs died after being recovered by Animal Care Services, and eventually about 20 dogs died.
“When profit is more important than the care of these animals then it’s a crime," said Lunan. "And the legislature didn’t just make it a crime, they made it a felony.”
Defense attorney Robert Barrera stated that the only reason the city tried the case was to put Guerra out of business.
He said, at the time, the city had a no-tolerance policy for dog breeders and puppy sellers and they were trying to put sellers like Sylvia out of business.
During closing arguments Robert Barrera reminded the jury about testimony from Beth Schneider and how she was crying on the stand. Schneider worked for ACS and had recovered the animals from Sylvia Guerra’s house. She gave passionate testimony of how bad the conditions were, saying that the dogs were in small cages and covered in feces.
During her testimony Barrera tried to discredit Schneider's statements by asking her about how Schneider's supervisor asked her to stop going to the Guerra’s house and harassing them about selling dogs.
“Nobody asked,'Tell us why you were fired?' when she admitted she was fired?” says Robert Barrera.
Three members of the Guerra family have been charged with animal cruelty. So far, Sylvia and her father have been found not guilty. Her husband still faces charges on the same evidence presented in Sylvia’s case. It has not been determined if the case for Joe Guerra will continue.