CROWN POINT — A judge ruled Thursday that St. John police illegally entered a dog training facility and barred prosecutors from presenting evidence obtained as a result of the search during the man's upcoming trial on animal abuse charges.
Larry Brodanex, 38, of Chicago Heights, was charged with nine felony counts of torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal and 34 counts of cruelty to animals after police searched the facility Sept. 11, 2017, in the 9600 block of Industrial Drive in St. John.
Police seized some of the dogs in the facility that day and later returned after a judge signed two search warrants. Police seized more than 30 dogs from the property, according to records.
Police noted the smell of urine and feces inside the business was “overbearing” and described most of the dogs as sickly or “horrendously thin." The animals were seized from the location after a veterinarian determined many of the dogs showed signs of trauma, active skin infections or inadequate nutrition, according to court records.
The property owner, who was renting the facility to Brodanex, gave police permission to enter the facility.
The property owner testified in June he felt he had no other choice but to allow police inside, but a St. John animal control officer testified the property owner was upset about conditions and freely allowed her to enter.
There was no question the landlord — not Brodanex — permitted police inside, according to Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez's order.
"There is no question that a renter has an expectation of privacy in the premises leased," the order reads. "There is also no question that the investigating officer knew that the defendant was renting the property. The strong stench of dog feces or urine is not sufficient to overcome those privacy rights."
The two subsequent search warrants were based on observations made Sept. 11, 2017, so prosecutors were barred from presenting any evidence obtained as a result of those warrants.
Brodanex appeared in court Friday with defense attorney Matthew Fech, who asked that another pretrial hearing be scheduled for next week.
Brodanex is scheduled to stand trial May 20.
Deputy Prosecutor David Rooda said Friday he did not plan to ask to continue the trial, but might know more at the next hearing.
A final pretrial hearing was set for May 17.