By Doug Ireland email@example.com
---- — BRENTWOOD — Jamie Labbe shook in her seat as she waited for Judge Marguerite Wageling to hand down her sentence in what the judge called the worst animal abuse case she’s seen in her 27 years on the bench.
One German shepherd died and another required lifesaving surgery after numerous metal objects, including a cigarette lighter and shower head, were found in them.
“I have very strong concern for the danger she poses to others in the community,” Wageling said, before announcing the Haverhill woman will spend the next four to eight years in state prison. Labbe also received an additional three and a half to seven years, but that was suspended for good behavior.
Much of the two-hour sentencing proceeding in Rockingham Superior Court focused on the 35-year-old woman’s mental state and the threat she posed to not only animals, but humans as well. “It was intended to manipulate and terrorize and was premeditated,” Deputy County Attorney Thomas Reid said.
Labbe, 35, of Haverhill was arrested in April 2011 and charged with forcing the objects down the dogs’ throats to seek revenge against her boyfriend, Kurt Krohn. The couple lived in Sandown with their young son, now 3 years old.
Labbe, who also recently lived in Plaistow, was accused of threatening to kill Krohn but was never charged. She was convicted by a jury Aug. 22 after being indicted on five counts of attempted cruelty to animals and a single count of criminal mischief. Labbe faced three and half to seven years in prison on each of the six charges.
Earlier charges of animal cruelty were dismissed after defense attorney Thomas Gleason successfully argued that Labbe was forced to speak against her will while being interrogated by Sandown police. The latest charges said that instead of forcing the objects down the dogs’ throats, she either placed them in their mouths or in “proximity” to the animals.
Labbe sat quietly in the courtroom until minutes before Wageling announced the sentence. Then, she began to shake and was comforted by Gleason.
Gleason told the judge his client had suffered from mental illness, including bipolar depression, for years and incarceration in prison would only exacerbate her problems. He asked that she serve 90 days in the county jail.
Gleason, who said the sentence will be appealed, also told the judge that hurting an animal is not the same as hurting a human. Labbe has received threats and hate mail. Petitions voicing disfavor have been launched online. “Animal rights are important but they are not to be equated with what happens to human beings,” he said. “Dogs are dogs and people are people.”
Krohn read a statement to the court, asking that she receive at least 10 years in prison.
“I believe she is not only a danger to animals, but to people as well,” he said. “She needs to be held accountable for her actions.”
Reid has said she put various items in the dogs’ months or near them, including brake fluid, toxic if ingested.
One dog, Pebbles, was taken to a Boston veterinary hospital, where it was discovered the dog had ingested a metal clamp and a 6-inch pipe. Pebbles died.
The second dog, Magic, had a cigarette lighter, a shower head and a 4-inch metal bolt in its stomach. Magic recovered after the items were surgically removed.
After Wageling sentenced Labbe, Gleason announced his client had the right to remain free pending her appeal.
The judge disagreed, saying Labbe’s drinking and illegal drug use had violated the conditions of her release on $30,000 cash bail.