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By Anais Cortes
SACRAMENTO – Brock and Tiffany Erickson—each charged with one felony account of animal cruelty—did not receive the outcome they were hoping for in their preliminary hearing this week in Sacramento County Superior Court.
The co-defendants were first charged with animal abuse and neglect on the night of June 28, 2019. After several continuances, defense attorneys Ernest Chen and Byron Roope, and Deputy District Attorney Hilary Bagley, were ready to proceed with Judge Julie Yap presiding.
The preliminary hearing began with Deputy Timothy Chan taking the stand as the first witness. He and Deputy Anthony Chilelli responded to the call that night in 2019.
DDA Bagley, who is the supervising DDA of the Animal Cruelty Unit of the DA’s Office, began by walking the judge through the events of the night by way of Chan’s testimony.
Members of the Orangevale crime watch reportedly found a photo of a dog that was malnourished, emaciated, and obviously uncared for. Once they narrowed their search for the house they believed the dog was being kept at, they approached the home.
Tiffany Erickson reportedly answered the door, and “met the women with rude and abrasive remarks.” They offered to take the dog from the residence so it could get proper treatment and care, but were denied. The group of women then called the police.
Upon arriving at the Erickson residence, Deputy Chan recalled Brock Erickson aggressively yelling, “WHAT?” and then coming out of the front door. Once he realized they were law enforcement, he became only slightly less agitated. Deputy Chan also recalled the state of the front yard and exterior of the home, which he described as, “extremely unkept…had weeds, and the front yard was unmowed.”
DDA Bagley continued to explain the content of the report on the case.
After communicating with Brock Erickson as to why they were there, he became defensive and denied any allegations. At first, he tried to bring out a different dog and say that it was one of only two healthy dogs he owned. After further conversation, he finally admitted to owning the emaciated dog in the picture.
Once Chan and his colleague Deputy Chilelli saw the sick and emaciated dog, animal services and CPO were called. They entered the home to do a welfare check on the children they heard in the home, and upon entering, saw the house was in complete disarray.
There was food and trash strewn everywhere, and “general uncleanliness,” Deputy Chan said, adding he could barely stand the smell…it was like a hoarder house. There were four young children living in the home.
According to a police report filed by Chilelli and Chan, the garage is where the dogs slept.
The floor was covered with dog feces and trash, with food everywhere. There was also one goat in the garage. In total, the Erickson’s owned two goats, three dogs, and two cats. When the prosecution asked how and where the dogs were fed, Chan somberly replied, “The food was scattered about as a free-for-all eating. There were two small child size pools filled with water. The water was green. It was rancid water.”
However, when Tiffany Erickson was questioned, she reportedly “pushed the blame to her husband.” She also claimed that the poor dog’s condition “had declined in the past three to four months, but had gone to the vet six months prior where it was tested for mange.”
According to Chan, she told him that she “knew the dog was in dire straits,” and that she allegedly did make phone calls to a family friend’s vet, but the vet refused to treat the dog due to fear of contagion.
Once the prosecution finished questioning Deputy Chan, both defense attorneys provided Chan with follow up questions. Both Chen and Roope tried to argue that since the many other animals under the Erickson’s care were in good condition, they can’t truly be held responsible for animal abuse and neglect.
After brief questioning of two other witnesses, Deputy Anthony Chilelli and Officer Cody Lopez, the preliminary hearing concluded. The two testimonies corroborated Deputy Chan’s testimony and provided evidence for the prosecution.
Animal Services found that the dog had a severe brain tumor that was causing him extreme pain and was the reason for his loss of appetite. He was put down shortly after.
The judge concluded that there was sufficient evidence to keep the charge as a felony, and enough evidence to go to trial. Not guilty pleas were entered, and the trial date was set for 2021.
The judge assured both Brock and Tiffany Erickson that they would get a chance to tell their side of the story at the next hearing.
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