Nevada County animal abuse case set for May
A crucial hearing in an animal cruelty case was postponed to next month after a prosecution witness couldn’t appear Thursday.
William Didomizio — who court records state was previously convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years old — faces a felony charge of failure to register his address with authorities and misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Traci Mason, the prosecutor in the case, said she wants to present evidence at a preliminary hearing that warrants a felony animal cruelty charge. However, a veterinarian essential to that higher accusation couldn’t appear Thursday in Nevada County Superior Court, leading Judge Linda Sloven to postpone Didomizio’s preliminary hearing until May 23.
“The fact that a witness was subpoenaed changes things from my perspective,” the judge said, referring to a prosecution move that led her to postpone the hearing.
Defense attorney Michael Rooney, who represents the 70-year-old Didomizio, opposed the delay. He argued that an officer could testify about the same information, negating the need for the veterinarian. Additionally, Rooney had two out-of-town witnesses ready to testify on Thursday.
“This is not good cause,” Rooney said of the prosecution’s reason to postpone.
Judges use preliminary hearings to determine if enough evidence exists to advance a case toward trial.
Authorities have accused Didomizio of abusing his dog Baby Girl between Sept. 15 and Oct. 1. Court records allege he used a sex toy on the Labrador.
Didomizio has pleaded not guilty.
His dog seized, Didomizio convinced a judge to order Baby Girl’s return last month. Mason wanted the judge reverse that decision. Sloven agreed earlier this month with the prosecutor, and Baby Girl remains in foster care.
Mason had argued the dog should remain in foster care because Baby Girl’s condition improved after authorities took it from Didomizio.
A private investigator for Rooney states in court documents that the witness who originally claimed he saw Didomizio abusing the dog has recanted. Other people the investigator spoke with questioned the witness’ credibility. One person called that witness a “chronic liar.”
Mason disputed that characterization in an email.
“The reporting party was present and prepared to testify, under oath, at today’s hearing as to what he observed,” she said Thursday. “I anticipate his testimony will be consistent with what he reported to the investigating sheriff’s deputies.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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