Bellevue woman sentenced to jail for animal cruelty

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SARPY COUNTY, Neb. (WOWT) -- There was standing room only in Sarpy County Court Wednesday morning as a woman convicted of felony animal cruelty faced sentencing.

Ashley Alberts-Roach was sentenced to one year behind bars for two felony charges. In August of 2016 Alberts-Roach left her boyfriend's dogs, Paco and Oakley, in a hot car outside of a Bellevue apartment. The animals were in the vehicle for four hours on the hot, summer day. Both dogs died.

Alberts-Roach was placed in cuffs and taken out of the courtroom after sentencing Wednesday.

"We're pleased with the judge's decision,” said Nebraska Humane Society's Mark Langan. "It wasn't the maximum, but at least we got something to make her think about while she sits in jail. This was definitely not a negligent act. It was an intentional act on this person's part. The judge saw through that.”

Supporters with the Nebraska Humane Society were happy with Judge Stefanie Martinez's decision. Alberts-roach's public defender would have preferred a different outcome.

"She got jail time as opposed to probation. That's probably the biggest issue we have,” said defense attorney Thomas Strigenz.

In court, Strigenz said her past record was minor and that the outcry from the public shouldn't sway the sentence. He described the crime as being negligent, but not intentional. Supporters of the Paco and Oakley disagree. They don't see how it could be framed any other way.

"These animals have no voice. They can't testify. They can't say how bad it was in that car, obviously. That's where we come in and support the situation,” said Langan.

They’re hoping more of these cases are prevented down the road.

As part of her sentence, Alberts-Roach will not be able to own a pet for 30 years.

The defense has not decided whether to appeal.