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Daughter, mother arraigned in animal cruelty cases

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Shania Wells, previously convicted of animal cruelty offenses that led to the animals’ deaths, pleaded innocent Thursday when was arraigned on felony charges before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato.

Wells was represented by Public Defender Frank Pierce. Her pre-trial hearing was set for April 21 with a plea agreement deadline May 18 and trial June 2.

She is accused of three counts of fifth-degree felony prohibitions concerning companion animals and two counts of second-degree misdemeanor cruelty to animals.

Wells, 22, of 59615 Chestnut Level Road, Belmont previously pleaded no contest to 10 counts of second-degree misdemeanor cruelty to animals stemming from an incident at the end of 2018, when deputies went to property and found dead and mistreated animals. Wells was ordered not to own animals and not to be in a residence with an animal for five years. Wells had faced similar charges in 2017 and was allowed to complete a diversion program and have those charges dismissed.

“She is serving a sentence out of Western Court currently,” Belmont County Prosecutor Dan Fry said.

In February, her probation was revoked when she admitted to being in a residence with animals. She was sentenced to a year and a half in jail in the county’s Western Division County Court. During a search of her home on Jan. 9 by the humane society, Belmont County Hoof and Paw reportedly found two dead calves, one dead dog, and two badly-neglected dogs. She was arraigned on those new charges Thursday.

Meanwhile, her mother, Kellie Wells, 55, of the same address, appeared before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Vavra on the same charges stemming from the same incident. Her pre-trial conference was set for March 30, with a plea agreement deadline April 13 and trial April 30.

Each of the felony charges carries maximum sentence of one year; each second-degree misdemeanor carries a potential sentence of 90 days.

Also before Fregiato Thursday was Donald Thomas Boyd, 60, of 64790 Gibas Road, Neffs, who pleaded innocent to aggravated vehicular homicide that allegedly occurred Sept. 12, 2018. His pre-trial was set for April 21 with a plea agreement hearing May 19 and trial June 23. His recognizance bond was continued. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, a Ford truck operated by Boyd was traveling south on Willow Grove Road, or Belmont County Road 4, and went left of center, colliding with a northbound Chevrolet pick-up truck operated by Everett Hartley Jr., 55, of Neffs. Everett Hartley’s brother, Robert Hartley, 52, of Moundsville, was a passenger and suffered fatal injuries.

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