MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis residents, get ready to pay up. This time we're not talking about a tax hike or some new fee, we're talking about paying the former Memphis Animal Shelter veterinarian.
A jury found her not guilty of the animal cruelty charges she faced in connection to the 2009 raid on the shelter. This case is over, but the truth is it may not be the last we hear about Dr. Angela Middleton.
She flipped our news camera the bird moments after jurors found her not guilty of animal abuse. Now that the criminal case is over, Middleton's wrongful termination lawsuit against the City of Memphis can move forward.
Truth is taxpayers may have to write her a check for more than two years of back pay, and the city could be forced to give Middleton her job back.
District Attorney Amy Weirich was disappointed the state lost the case, but said, "It's what the jury decided and we respect that."
Prosecutors will now focus on the cases of two other former employees also indicted for animal abuse. Shelter Director Ernie Alexander and supervisor Tina Quattlebaum are accused of starving three dogs in 2009.
Truth is prosecutors may have an equally hard time proving those employees committed a crime. Instead, it may become an issue of employees not doing their jobs.
According to Bill Massey, Quattlebaum's lawyer, "I think one of the major questions is, are these people criminally responsible for not doing something? Obviously none said, 'let's starve those dogs.'"
Middleton's attorney, Edward Bronston, thought the prosecution's case was weak. He says instead of filing criminal charges against employees, more time, money and energy should have been spent fixing problems at the shelter.
As for Middleton, Weirich says, "I hope the public doesn't look at the verdict and say this is a green light to abuse animals. That's not the message the jury wanted to send."
Of course, a middle finger is the message Middleton wanted to send, probably not only to her critics but to anyone watching. Middleton would have been better served making a public statement, talking about how she was wrongfully accused or how this was an injustice. Truth is probably anything would have been better than flipping the bird.