Morgan Hill resident Ava Geddes was convicted last week in Santa Clara County Superior Court on charges that she allowed numerous cats to die or become sick while the animals were in her care.
Geddes pleaded no contest to one count of felony animal cruelty and one count of misdemeanor animal neglect, according to Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Vishal Bathija. Geddes entered the plea at the Hall of Justice in San Jose on July 29.
The plea was the result of a negotiated settlement of the criminal case against Geddes, which initially consisted of two felony counts and the misdemeanor charge. By pleading no contest, Geddes agreed to serve an eight-month jail sentence and three years of formal probation, Bathija said.
She will also be prohibited from possessing any animals for the next 10 years, Bathija added. The DA’s office will seek additional terms for Geddes’ probation “to ensure that no other animals can be harmed” by her.
Geddes has been restricted to home confinement since March while awaiting court proceedings on the criminal charges. Bathija said she will likely receive credit for “time served” and will not have to serve any jail time.
She will be formally sentenced at a hearing scheduled for Oct. 18.
Geddes was arrested by Morgan Hill Police in June 2020 after an investigation that found numerous dead cats and other neglected felines at her home, according to authorities. Investigators found at least nine dead cats at Geddes’ home—in various states of decomposition—and seven living cats, according to court records.
“The defendant allowed those cats to suffer indescribable conditions. The suffering they endured is heartbreaking,” Bathija said. “Our primary goal in this prosecution was to ensure that she could not have custody or care for any animals for as long as legally possible. The probation grant ensures that someone is looking over her shoulder to ensure that she cannot come near or hurt another animal.”
Before her arrest, Geddes had been known in South County for her volunteer cat rescue efforts. She was a frequent presence on local Facebook pages, where she often offered her help when a stray or sickly cat was reported.
Geddes’ attorney, Josh Jachimowicz, said she had become “overwhelmed” with these efforts. He added that she will “continue to seek support” after her conviction and sentencing.
“Ms. Geddes has accepted full responsibility for her actions,” Jachimowicz said in a statement. “She has expressed remorse and has taken steps that will prevent anything from occurring in the future. It’s a tragedy that Ms. Geddes became overwhelmed by her situation and animals suffered.”