by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher

Wednesday afternoon, March 16, 2022 in the Pass Christian Municipal Court; defendants Richard and Ethel Ross pleaded a not guilty verdict, which Judge Lewis “Skip” Negrotto set a trial date for next week.

The two suspects were arrested at their residence on E Second Street in Pass Christian with 70 charges each of cruelty to animals.  Both had $3500 bonds set last week for these misdemeanor crimes, but neither received bond and were extradited to the city court for their arraignment.

On March 10, 2022; the Pass Christian Police Department, along with assistance of Animal Control Officers from the Pass Christian Fire Department,  Long Beach Police Department, Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and the Humane Society of South Mississippi seized 70 animals from their residence in the city.

According to city prosecutor Ed Edwards, a few of the animals have died and the city would request a condemnation of the property at the trial.

“If you’re found guilty of each one of these charges, I could put you away for 35 years,” expressed Judge Negrotto.  “So I’m not reducing the bond, where are you gonna go?  You’re not going back in that house, it’s not livable!”

City Judge Negrotto then suddenly issued another additional $1500 bond set for Richard Ross due to having his vulnerable adult daughter living in the house; which will be decided if this is unsafe for public health at the trial.

“That girl is not going back in that house,” said Negrotto.  “I will do everything I have to do to assure that she’s not going back in that house.”

Richard Ross mentioned a statute in the paper given by the city attorney (Malcolm Jones) where they would like to issue an appeal for cleanup in 60 days.  Although Ross stated they will have legal representation at next week’s trial, currently they do not have one.

Edwards followed with a mental competence test for both defendants before next week trial; even though they previously received evaluation upon the seizure of animals, to sign away rights to the animals, and to take the property.  The spouses agreed release rights to the animals and restitution to the city, but asked for the appeal process.

The spouses told the court their daughter would be staying with a son in Gulfport.

Ethel Ross conveyed to the judge their lack of medicine and phone calls to family for bond money.  Negrotto responded that he would provide the opportunity for contact with family to get personal medicine, but advised each that it was the Harrison County Adult Detention Center’s warden on what they could do.

Local officials commented that Richard C. Ross was a former processor for the Department of Human Services (DHS) and had a profile stating he possessed an investigation business.

The trial date has been set for 1:30pm, Wednesday, March 23 at the Pass Christian Municipal Court.