When my sister, attorney at law Stephanie Kimbrell, told me about her new case, I knew this was a story that deserves wider attention. As an attorney, Kimbrell often comes across strange or interesting cases, but this one was the first that involved the death penalty. Two beloved pet dogs, two-year-old Odin and six-year-old Lucy Lowman, have been condemned to die for a crime the owners say they did not commit in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
In January of 2021, Odin and Lucy were accused of killing a neighbor’s cat, Big Boy. There was one alleged eyewitness who said he saw this event and identified the dogs. But the eyewitness changed his account and never showed up to testify. Even so, the dogs were incarcerated in the Anne Arundel County Care and Control facility and condemned to death on third-party hearsay statements.
Sixty-seven-year-old Nola Lowman and her son William Dillon, the dogs’ loving owners, have fought for almost a year to save the lives of the dogs, even hiring a legal team to file an appeal.
Odin and Lucy have been locked up in separate cages since last January without the loving interaction of their owners. “They don’t let me pet them or touch them,” Lowman told PJ Media. “I accidentally touched the bars when I went to see them and the guard yelled, ‘NO TOUCHING THE BARS’ at me like we were in prison.” The owners are also barred from taking photographs or videos of the dogs. Lowman couldn’t return after that experience. “I couldn’t take it,” she said. “The dogs don’t understand why I can’t touch them or give them treats. They just bark and cry. It’s hell.”
Since their incarceration in January of 2020, the dogs have not been allowed outside at all. Condemned dogs are forced to relieve themselves where they sleep and are never allowed to go outside for exercise or a walk at the county facility.
Wendy Cozzone of Cheryl’s Rescue Ranch said she is hopeful that the county can resolve this in a more reasonable way. “I’ve worked with the county for at least fifteen years and have seen positive changes over the last ten. There must be some mistake here,” she said. “No one wants to see innocent animals punished for a crime they didn’t commit.”
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Lowman’s lawyers believe that the county used totally unreliable testimony and refused to see all the relevant evidence, which includes a trail-cam photograph of a hungry-looking coyote in the neighborhood.
Since Odin and Lucy have been locked up on death row, four other cats have turned up dead in the same neighborhood. Dillon testified about the rash of cat killings at the hearing before the board of appeals. “Neighbors have all reported that cats are being killed. There’s a serial cat killer on the loose and my dogs are taking the rap for it,” Dillon told PJ Media. “Odin was just a puppy when this supposedly took place.” Several witness statements presented at trial informed the board of appeals that Odin and Lucy are gentle animals that never showed any aggression toward farm animals, children, and other pets–including cats.
The only alleged eyewitness of the attack, Daniel Stinchcomb, has left the state (with no forwarding address) and abandoned his remaining cats in the process. Reporter Justin Rohrlich at the Daily Beast attempted to contact Stinchcomb but was unsuccessful. “I go up and feed [Stinchcomb’s cats] every day,” said Lowman, who has taken it upon herself to care for the abandoned animals her accuser left behind.
“It doesn’t seem right that a man who abandoned his animals has a right to condemn mine to death when he wouldn’t even show up to be questioned about his changing story,” said Lowman.
Lowman and Dillon remain convinced that Odin and Lucy did not kill Big Boy. “I inspected them when they came home,” said Lowman after retrieving her escaped pets on that fateful day. “There was no blood on them anywhere. There were no cuts or scratches either. If they had attacked a cat, the cat would have fought back. How did they get out of it without a scratch?”
Attorneys for Lowman believe the cat may have been dead already when the dogs got ahold of it.
A county representative first told Lowman that all she needed to do was build a secure enclosure for the dogs and they would be labeled “dangerous” but be allowed to live with her. Dillon spent much time and money building the enclosure, only to find out in the end that the county would not consider that an option and even refused to inspect it. The director of the county animal control, Robin Catlett, declared Odin and Lucy “vicious” and condemned them to death.
Lowman and Dillon appealed the process and are awaiting a new hearing, this time with attorneys of their own. According to a statement by Lowman and Dillon’s attorneys, C. Edward Middlebrooks and Kimbrell of the Law Offices of C. Edward Middlebrooks, P.A., the firm will use all available means to rescue these animals from what they say is a bureaucratic nightmare.
Anne Arundel County has not followed proper procedure, did not provide the petitioners with due process as required by law, and, as a result, two innocent beloved family pets will pay the ultimate price. This is an example of tone-deaf heartless bureaucracies running roughshod over the people (and in this case also the dogs). We will not sit idly by while this injustice is done to these animals. Lucy and Odin are good dogs. They have no history of ever attacking or threatening any person or any of the multiple animals that they lived with. The ‘evidence’ against them regarding Big Boy, the cat, is totally unreliable, contradictory, and frankly, unbelievable. Animal Control must do the right thing and return these beautiful animals to their family for Christmas where they belong.”
Recently, Middlebrooks and Kimbrell attempted to do a well-check on the animals after finding out they haven’t been allowed outside for 11 months because of their status as “vicious.” Odin and Lucy have been relieving themselves in the cages where they sleep. The county has blocked the attorneys’ requests to see the animals and will not provide the county’s written policies on visitation without an official FOIA request.
Cozzone, who is an active board member and past president of the Anne Arundel County Animal Welfare Council, also attempted to check on the dogs and was denied by Catlett. “You can clearly see the family and the dogs are suffering yet no one will even discuss it with me,” Cozzone said. “My request to see the dogs in the building or outside was denied.” The family and their advocates are deeply concerned about the status of the dogs and are wondering why the county has gone to such lengths to keep anyone, including one of their own board members, from seeing Odin and Lucy.
The Daily Beast reached out to Catlett and the county and were unsuccessful in getting any answers.
Are Odin and Lucy still alive? Are they being cared for properly? Who made a policy that keeps some dogs locked in a cage 24 hours a day with no chance of seeing the sunlight or sniffing the grass or even relieving themselves away from where they sleep?
Lowman and Dillon have exhausted their ability to pay for the growing legal fees and are raising money via GoFundMe to continue the fight. All the family wants for Christmas is Odin and Lucy at home where they belong.
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