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Not guilty verdict in child endangerment

Late last month, a Blair County jury found Andora Gardner of Tyrone not guilty of child endangerment stemming from an Oct. 2005 case.
Adam L. and Andora K. Gardner were charged last year after an investigation that involved several agencies. The case stemmed from a complaint regarding several animals and reptiles at a duplex in Tyrone. A child endangerment charge against Adam Gardner was dismissed by the judge in the case.
In October of last year, police went to a residence at on West 15th Street after being contacted by Tyrone Borough code enforcement officer Tom Lang.
A criminal complaint filed against the Gardners said police went there to assist Lang regarding code violations on one side of the duplex. The complaint said officers contacted Adam Gardner who refused to let authorities into the residence. Police said he stated he didn’t live at the residence.
The complaint noted Gardner was separated from his wife and he was at the residence taking a nap. Police said Andora Gardner arrived at the scene a short time later and let authorities into the residence.
After a preliminary hearing, prosecutor Terry Tomassetti said, “Our witnesses indicated there were children at the residence.”
Altoona attorney Thomas Dickey represented the Gardners. He contended the children were not living at the residence at the time authorities investigated the complaint about the animals. After the preliminary hearing earlier this year, he told The Daily Herald the children, then ages eight and five, were living with their grandmother at the time.
In the end, Assistant DA Tomassetti said, “it was a tough case” regarding “the occupancy” by the children at the residence at the time of the complaint. He said he “respected the jury’s decision.” He said the jury “took their job seriously and came to a decision they thought was right.”
The police complaint noted authorities saw many animals at the residence. The complaint said they included seven cats, three dogs, two red-ear sliders, two gerbils, one house gecko, 11 feeder mice, one dwarf hamster, five feeder rats, one guinea pig, one Snyder slink, two parakeets, two exotic birds, one squirrel, one turtle and numerous lizards and snakes.
Other details noted in the complaint included an observation of feces on the floor of the residence, the bed and children’s toys. Litter boxes were said to be overflowing and the carpet was animal-stained. A dead rat was found behind the toilet in a bathroom. Cats were observed eating cat food from the kitchen table. Animal cages with dirty water were noted throughout the residence. Police said the odor of the residence was strong enough that it could be smelled outside. Police said the house was infested with fleas and flies. The backyard was littered with dog feces.
Shortly after the visit by authorities, the residence was found to be “unfit for human occupancy” and condemned by the borough. The Gardners were told they could no longer occupy it.
In addition to the child endangerment charges, Andora Gardner also was issued summary offenses regarding violations concerning the animals. She was found not guilty on those charges by Blair County Senior Judge Thomas G. Peoples.