Former animal shelter admin a no-show in court.

Ernest Alexander (Source: Shelby County Sheriff's Department)
Ernest Alexander (Source: Shelby County Sheriff's Department)

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Facing six counts of aggravated animal cruelty, the former administrator of the Memphis Animal Shelter was scheduled to have his first court appearance Monday morning.  But he wasn't there.

Herschal Rosenberg, the attorney for former Memphis Animal Shelter administrator Ernest Alexander, says Monday's court appearance was a surprise.

"I was watching the news, and I found out he was supposed to be here," Rosenberg said.

In court Monday, a judge set March 25 as the date for Alexander's arraignment, at which time the criminal complaint against him will be read.  

Alexander is supposed to be there to hear the charges against him.  Outside court, Rosenberg said they're just charges.

"Charges are charges, and we will address them," he said.

Alexander faces six counts of aggravated cruelty after Shelby County sheriff's deputies raided the Memphis Animal Shelter.  There, investigators said, starving dogs had to be put down under Alexander's care, including a stray described as "friendly" during intake.  The dog had to be put down when she starved and dropped to eight pounds in weight.  Photos showed the dog's ribs poking out of her chest.

Rosenberg claims Alexander is innocent.

"He is not guilty. There will be a plea of not guilty," he said.

Alexander was in his previous home town in New Mexico when the indictment dropped.  His attorney said it was unfair for the state to treat him as a fugitive.

"How would you feel?  Especially when there were prior negotiations with the state and there was supposed to be an opportunity for him to talk to them," Rosenberg said.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.