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Woman charged with assaulting law enforcement officers, neglecting animals in Douglas County


A Seymour resident who is charged with 52 misdemeanor counts of animal neglect or abandonment, and has been charged with felonies related to an earlier arrest, has filed correspondence in court suggesting her constitutional civil rights were infringed upon when she was taken into custody on Oct. 14, 2023, for failure to appear in Ava municipal court for a traffic ticket.

Court records show Susan E. Sinclair, 57, was ticketed April 11 by an Ava police officer on a charge of driving with expired plates and made an initial appearance April 27, but failed to show up for a hearing on May 31, leading to a summons issued on July 18 for her to appear and show cause on Aug. 9.

When she missed that court date, a warrant for failure to appear with an attached $150 cash bond was issued, the records show.

On Oct. 14, as an officer and deputy arrested Sinclair, she allegedly pushed and tried to kick at them, ending with the three of them fighting on the ground and the deployment of pepper spray. She was charged with two counts of third-degree assault on a special victim and one count of resisting arrest for a felony, filed Nov. 14 by grand jury indictment. She failed to appear for a Dec. 5 arraignment and another warrant was issued, court records show. Sinclair later entered a request to be released on her own recognizance, and at a Dec. 20 arraignment before 44th Judicial Circuit Court Judge R. Craig Carter it was agreed she would be released on those terms, set by the associate court.

At the arraignment, Sinclair entered a not guilty plea, and on Jan. 5, she filed correspondence referring to Title 18, Section 242 of the U.S. Code (U.S.C), which refers to "deprivation of rights under color of law."

The correspondence, entered into court records outside a scheduled appearance by Sinclair and with no context provided, includes the the full text of Title 18, Section 242, reading "Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death."

The documents also include a copy of the Preamble to the Bill of Rights and first five amendments to the U.S. Constitution, plus federal law referring to treason, sedition and subversive activities. The section submitted referring to the law regarding treason reads "Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States," a definition repeated in the correspondence under Article 2381 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Another page of the correspondence, without a reference to the source, cites the results of Marbury vs. Madison, an 1803 Supreme Court decision that established judicial review to determine the constitutionality of the actions of the executive and legislative branches.

The correspondence includes the quote by Chief Justice John Marshall "All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void."

Sinclair is next scheduled to appear in the case for a hearing on Feb. 21 before Carter.

As for the ticket for having expired tags, court records show she entered a guilty plea on Nov. 8, paid a $32.50 fine, and was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation.

On Dec. 15, a request for animal neglect or abandonment charges was filed by Douglas County Prosecutor Matthew Weatherman, based on an investigation and probable cause statement submitted by Douglas County Deputy Nathan Long.

He said that on Oct. 16, the sheriff's department got an anonymous tip there were about 25 dogs on Sinclair's property that were being severely neglected, and that afternoon, he and Deputy Aaron Box found over 40 dogs when they went to investigate.

Some were being housed in small wire pens outside, one appeared to have had a broken leg that healed in a crooked manner, others were emaciated, and several were in outside enclosures with only plastic barrels for shelter and no bedding.

The observations were made in plain view from the driveway and front yard of the home, Long noted. After he left, he stated, officials with the Humane Society were contacted, and on Oct. 17, Long returned with one of the organization’s representatives and saw that one dog died since the previous day and another was dying.

Long secured a warrant to search the property and seized the neglected dogs, with the help of the Humane Society, and on Oct. 18, he confiscated 43 live dogs and nine dead ones, leaving two live dogs that couldn't be caught.

The search warrant was executed while Sinclair was in jail after allegedly resisting arrest, and a copy of the warrant and an inventory of the seized items was left at the Sinclair home, plus delivered to her at the Douglas County Jail, Long reported.

On Oct. 20, the sheriff's department got another call about more dogs at another house on the property, previously unknown to law enforcement, and Long found another two dogs and several goats and chickens.

Sinclair was at that location, and Long reportedly advised her why he was there and was told the dogs that had been confiscated would have been fine, but the person she made arrangements with to care for them while she was in jail hadn't done so.

There is no indication from court documents any additional animals were confiscated.

Sinclair reportedly gave the name and phone number of the person she said she had asked to care for the dogs to Long, and he checked outgoing phone records at the jail and couldn't find any evidence such calls had been made.

She is scheduled for arraignment on the animal neglect charges on Thursday before 44th Judicial Associate Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Bock. Court records do not indicate she has hired legal representation, or expressed an intention to apply for a public defender.