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Des Moines Woman Pleads Guilty to Animal Torture & Sentenced Today

Posted July 05, 2013 in Web Exclusives

July 5, 2013 (Des Moines, Iowa) – Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) officials were present during the sentencing of Sheena Ann Cornwell, the woman accused of the brutal hanging death of her boyfriend’s dog, Lillie, on April 8, 2013.

Cornwell plead guilty to the charges of animal torture, an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to 2 years in prison and up to $6,250 in fines.  The state was seeking the maximum sentenced but she received a 2 year suspended sentence and 2 years probation, during which she cannot own pets.  She will also be required to undergo psychological evaluation and treatment at her own expense.

“More needs to be done on the state level to allow stricter sentences for animal torture crimes like this,” said Tom Colvin, Executive Director for the ARL, “This case is a perfect example of why we hope the Iowa lawmakers, next session, will reconsider having the penalties allowed for animal torture convictions fit the crime– and we will be asking them to do just that.”

Current Iowa law only allows animal torture to be classified as a felony on the second offense.  The ARL believes these crimes are serious enough to warrant a felony on the first offense.

“It is widely known that people who commit violent crimes towards animals often go onto commit violent crimes towards humans,” said Scott Wilson, Cruelty Intervention Coordinator for the ARL, “The details of this case are horrific and the ways this animal suffered are something that no animal should have to experience.”

For more information about the links between animal and human abuse, contact Dr. Randall Lockwood, the Senior Vice President Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects for the ASPCA at or 347-668-4302

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