End finally in sight for Monroe’s goat saga

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With Sandra Shurling pleading guilty to violating the terms of her probation set last year when she was found guilty on 11 charges resulting from her goats being at large, it looks like there finally may be an end in sight to the saga that has tied up Monroe Municipal Court on more than one occasion.

In May 2017, Shurling was charged with having her goats habitually at large from her Walton Street home during the 16 month period leading up to April 2017. Loganville Municipal Judge Lori Duff heard the case at that time and found Shurling guilty, sentencing her to a fine of $200 on each count of 11 charges, totaling $2,200, and a total probation period of 12 months. She also gave Shurling 60 days to either get rid of the goats or get a fence that kept them constrained. Since then, the city accused Shurling of violating the terms of the probation by not erecting fencing sufficient to keep them constrained, contending it had proof that the goats had got out again. Shurling was back in court Thursday, March 8, 2018, to answer that charge.

Shurling initially entered a guilty plea, but got stuck on the term “willful,” something she needed to acknowledge she was guilty of in order for the plea to be accepted.

“I would never willfully let my goats out,” Shurling said, saying she loved her goats and baulking at making that statement in order for the court to accept her guilty plea.

Prior to that, she had told Monroe Municipal Court Judge Dale R. “Bubba” Samuels – who heard the case this time – that the fence had come down once when a neighbor’s tree fell on it and another time when she wasn’t home when Hurricane Irma hit. He had problems with her not accepting responsibility. However, after a couple of conference between Shurling, her attorney David Wills and special prosecutor Michael Waldrop, it was agreed that Shurling could admit to willfully not removing the goats or constructing an effective containment fence within 60 days of last year’s guilty finding, which were terms of her probation. Samuels sentenced her to an additional 25 hours of community service to be served at an animal shelter as well as  a 3-hour responsibility course from A Strong Hand Up. Shurling has until May 10, 2018 to complete the terms of her probation or face the one day in jail until her probation ends on May 11.

Shurling said she has since purchased a home outside of Walton County, which she said she will move into completely in May once her children complete their school year. She also told the court that the goats are no longer kept at her Walton Street home.

During one of the breaks while Shurling was conferring with her attorney, Judge Lori Duff was called in to hear a case against Monroe Councilman Norman Garrett who was stopped 15 days after his October 2017 birthdate with an expired tag. Garrett said he simply forgot to renew it and had documents showing that he had done so the day after he was fined. He too pled guilty to the charge and requested that the fine be reduced to $75, which Duff agreed to. He was given until April 26 to pay the fine or he too could spend 10 days in jail.

Due to conflicts in both cases, alternative court officials had to be brought in.

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