Trial of woman charged with abusing dogs postponed to await psych evaluation

The criminal case against a woman who was arrested in 2017 for the fatal neglect of several German shepherds has apparently gotten snarled over a pending request for a psychological evaluation of the defendant.

Alamance County’s senior resident superior court judge Tom Lambeth has given Nancy B. Brewer until the end of the week to schedule an appointment with the state agency that handles mental health and substance abuse evaluations on behalf of the courts.

Nancy Brewer during an earlier (2017) court hearing, here with one of her attorneys, Jesse Scharff.

“If on Friday, you are able to show that she has at least scheduled an evaluation,” Lambeth told Brewer’s attorney, Monica McKinnie, on Monday, “then, I will excuse your client from having to come in [for a follow-up hearing next week].”

Brewer’s state of mind has been a persistent concern for the local courts system ever since the summer of 2017, when animal control officers found the corpses of several purebred German shepherds at a kennel that the defendant had operated at 5950 Union Ridge Road. Burlington’s animal control department, which runs the county’s animal shelter, also retrieved more than a dozen other dogs from a metal outbuilding where they were allegedly housed without adequate food and water – and only a “rusted fan” to stave off the punishing heat.

The grizzly discoveries at Brewer’s kennel prompted the city of Burlington to file a civil action against the 58-year-old white female that ultimately allowed it to take ownership of the surviving canines. At least one of the animals has since been rehabilitated to serve as a police dog for the city’s police department.

In the meantime, the office of Alamance County’s district attorney launched a criminal case against Brewer on multiple charges of animal cruelty and death by starvation.

Alex Bass, the assistant district attorney assigned to this case, told Lambeth on Monday that the state’s prosecution of Brewer is currently hung up on a “capacity issue.” Bass acknowledged that the defendant was previously evaluated by Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities – a program that provides mental health services for people involved with the state’s courts system. He added, however, that the results of Brewer’s initial evaluation have grown “stale” amid other delays in her case.

Bass went on to inform Lambeth that a fresh set of results will be crucial to the state’s efforts to proceed with this case.

“We just need to establish that there’s some progress being made,” he added, “and it’s up to the defendant to do that.”

Brewer, who was present in court on Monday, assured the judge that she has emailed a preliminary questionnaire to the state agency responsible for the evaluation. Lambeth decided to give Brewer a few more days to set up an appointment before pressing ahead with the matter.