Veterinarian pleads guilty to arson and animal cruelty charges

GADSDEN, AL (WBRC) – A Gadsden veterinarian has plead guilty to charges stemming from setting fire to his veterinary clinic.

In April of 2008, Dr. Jerry Wayne Handley's clinic on Highway 411 caught on fire. Seven animals died in the fire. Handley was arrested and accused of starting the blaze.

Handley entered the guilty pleas on Tuesday to charges of one count of arson and seven counts of animal cruelty to a dog or cat.

 "I'm glad this case has come to an end with a guilty plea," states Sheriff Todd Entrekin. "We knew all along that we had a great case against Handley."

Handley could receive 15 years for the arson charge and 10 years for each animal cruelty charge. The plea agreement requires that Handley serve 24 months and pay restitution of $13,500 before being eligible for release.

A sentencing date has been tentatively schedule on February 17, 2011 in Circuit Judge David Kimberley's courtroom.

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