Portsmouth- Samantha Damron was sentenced April 12 to 75 days to jail on multiple counts of animal cruelty. The sentence stems from a case last year that found dozens of dogs in her Sciotoville home starving or deceased.
Originally charged with dozens of counts, Damron ended up being sentenced on 10 counts of animal cruelty, a fifth-degree felony. She has a credit of eight days served. She will also be required to pay $6,765 restitution to the Scioto County Dog Shelter.
Damron, a former veterinary technician, pleaded guilty to the 10 counts in December 2022, and a motion for intervention in lieu of conviction was filed with the court. The court heard from Damron’s social worker at Shawnee Family Health, who said she had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder.
Marissa Montgomery said she has seen such downward spirals in other patients with similar diagnoses.
“Trauma has a way of creating a lot of distress in people,” Montgomery said. “It makes it difficult to function on a daily basis and it makes it difficult to recognize when you’re already struggling and what to do with that.”
Montgomery said she has been working on treatment with Damron since January.
Judge Howard H. Harcha III denied that motion, however, noting similar diagnoses had been made during court clinic appointments.
“This court did find Damron was competent to stand trial,” Harcha said. “I find today that with regard to the motion, Ms. Damron does have some mental health issues. However with all the circ of the case and my review of the PSI (pre-sentence investigation) I do find the interveintion would
According to Ohio Revised Code, it doesn’t matter how many charges there are of the fifth-degree felony animal abuse. This limits the sentencing options to community control.
“There’s very little the court can actually do due to Ohio’s sentencing law,” said defense attorney George Davis IV. “We would ask that she be sentenced to community control and she be put on supervision for a period of time. She’s had no violations of her bond whatsoever.”
The judge, the prosecutor and defense attorney all noted Damron has been cooperative in rehoming the remaining animals.
“We come here today for sentencing, but I want the record to reflect we have evaluated this case for several months. There’s no question that what happened to these dogs was horrific,” said Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman. “As a dog owner, it was pretty horrible.”
Tieman noted Damron is continuing to work on her mental health issues through treatment and is “working to ensure the remainder of the animals and dogs, companion animals, were adopted out and taken care of or given to other people to be properly taken care of.”
Addressing Damron, Harcha said she is not to own any pets and if she would violate the terms of the agreement then she could face up to 33 months in jail. She is to report for jail on April 19.
Reach Lori McNelly at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1928, by email at [email protected], © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved