Thomasville Times Enterprise

March 20, 2014

Bannister wants plea, conviction vacated by judge

Patti Dozier

THOMASVILLE — A Thomas County Superior Court judge will rule on whether the 2013 plea and conviction of a woman in an animal cruelty case will be vacated.

Rebecca Bannister entered guilty pleas in State Court of Thomas County to two counts of animal cruelty in May 2013. She was sentenced to 24 months probation, $12,000 restitution and surrender of paperwork on seized animals.

In February 2012, about 40 animals were seized from Bannister’s Boston-Monticello Road residence. Most of the animals were horses. Others included llamas, cows and donkeys.

The horses suffered from malnutrition and parasites infestations. One of the Bannister horses died within 10 days after it was seized. Two others had to be euthanized because of health issues.

Bannister was charged with 17 counts of animal cruelty.

At a Thursday Superior Court hearing, with Judge James E. “Jim” Hardy presiding, Bannister claimed she was coerced into entering guilty pleas to the charges.

Bannister was represented by Moultrie attorney Robert Jewel. Jay Fielding, State Court solicitor, represented State Court.

Jewel and Fielding will receive transcripts from Thursday’s proceeding and file briefs.

If Hardy rules in Bannister’s favor, the case would return to State Court.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.