A group of animal rights activists gathered outside the Courthouse before the arraignment. Ellie Troutman, who is caring for some of the horses Robinson is charged with neglecting, said the demonstrators wanted to make sure elected officials know that they are sticking together to fight for animal rights. (Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
A group of animal rights activists gathered outside the Courthouse before the arraignment. Ellie Troutman, who is caring for some of the horses Robinson is charged with neglecting, said the demonstrators wanted to make sure elected officials know that they are sticking together to fight for animal rights. (Staff photo by Brett Eppley/beppley@madisoncourier.com)
A Bedford, Ky. woman facing more than 50 charges of animal cruelty was arraigned Tuesday morning as animal rights demonstrators gathered outside the Trimble County Courthouse.

Marlena Robinson, 33, was arrested Feb. 2 after more than 30 dead animals were found on property she owned in Trimble County. Robinson was charged with 54 counts of second-degree animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor, and 43 counts of improper disposal of livestock carcasses, a Class B misdemeanor on the first offense. Robinson was released from the Carroll County Detention Center the following day after posting a $500 bond.

On Monday, Robinson was arrested again, this time on a felony charge of theft by unlawful taking of more than $10,000 and less than $1 million. The Trimble County Sheriff’s Department said Robinson had earlier borrowed one of the horses rescued from her Bedford property from someone who lives in Washington State for breeding purposes. In the contract, officials said she was supposed return the horse to its owner, but never did.

About 30 demonstrators gathered on the south lawn of the Courthouse Tuesday morning carrying signs calling for animal cruelty laws to be changed and proclaiming “Animal Lives Matter.”

Ellie Troutman, of Windy Meadows Equine Center – where 13 horses and ponies from Robinson’s property are being cared for – led the group. Troutman said her purpose for attending the proceedings was to know what her role may be as the horses remain in her custody.

Demonstrators stood silent with their signs, Troutman said, to more effectively speak to local and state officials.

“This was a way to show some of the elected officials – these judges, the prosecutor, the sheriff – that we’re going to all stick together,” Troutman said. “These were neighbors. These were friends. These were people that had trusted her with their animals in the past, and a lot of these people are feeling very betrayed. So some form of closure is what they’re looking for and sometimes these things bring a little of that, to see justice done, even if the justice is so minimal like in this case,” Troutman said.

“What we’re trying to do is get people to calm down and think and then use the system,” she said.

Troutman said she and other protesters hope to encourage Kentucky state lawmakers to broaden felony charges of animal cruelty to include incidents beyond dog fighting.

Under current law, the cruelty charges Robinson faces are a Class A misdemeanor. Though the penalty includes 90 days to 12 months in jail, people convicted of these charges rarely serve jail time, Troutman said.

Participating in or profiting from dog fighting or cock fighting is the only animal-abuse offense that constitutes a Class D felony, which carries a penalty of one to five years in jail.

“My animals are my family,” Twila Jennings said of the reason she participated in the demonstration. “I have eight grandchildren, I have friends and family, but my animals are part of my family. They are fed before my husband is.”

Demonstrators shared cell phone photos of the animals taken from Robinson’s property. Though not all of them have personal connections to the case, to speak up for animals was enough reason to make themselves heard.

Just after 11 a.m., Robinson arrived in shackles from the Carroll County Detention Center, accompanied by her attorney Ken McCardwell. McCardwell entered a plea of not guilty to all charges and told Judge Diana Wheeler he felt the theft charge was a civil matter that should be dismissed. Wheeler denied the request to dismiss the charge.

McCardwell also asked for bond for the second arrest to be reduced to 10 percent of $5,000.

Prosecutor Crystal Heinz argued against the bond reduction, saying she had reason to believe Robinson posed a flight risk.

“It’s come to my attention that she’s made the statement that when she’s released that she is going to flee to, I believe, Arizona with a boyfriend,” Heinz said.

In the end, however, bond was reduced after Wheeler considered pre-trial reports that identified Robinson as “low risk” and “no risk for violence.”

Wheeler granted Robinson monitored conditional release with the requirement to report to the courts within 24 hours of her release.

If she does not meet all release requirements, Wheeler said, Robinson could have to pay the full $5,000.

Other conditions of her release, Wheeler said, include no new offenses, making all future court dates, a provision that allows animal control officers to monitor Robinson, no contact with alleged victims of theft and that she is “not to possess any animals whatsoever.”

Considering family members of Robinson that may have animals, Wheeler ordered that those animals be removed from the home before Robinson could visit, making certain that she will have no contact with animals at all.

“I assume you mean four-legged animals? Not fish or something like that?” asked McCardwell.

“I think it includes all animals at this point,” Wheeler replied. “Whether it’s designated between two-legged, four-legged or no-legged.”

The group agreed that all domesticated animals be included in the provisions.

Robinson bonded out of the Carroll County Detention center around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and is due in court for a preliminary hearing at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28.