Man charged with death of 21 dogs in Hampton case enters plea

Vernon Silver, center, appears in court Wednesday, May 31, 2017. He was faced charges including felony cruelty to animals. Credit: WAVY/Walter Hildebrand.

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — The man charged in a case involving dead dogs entered an Alford plea Tuesday morning in court.

The Alford plea allows Vernon Silver to maintain his innocence, but a judge moved forward as though he was found guilty.

Silver was charged last March with more than 60 counts, including felony cruelty to animals, after police found 21 dogs dead in a home on Pochin Place.

Related: Evidence heard against man charged in dead dogs case

Silver, 58, was a maintenance worker and had the only key to the home, according to court records. Only one dog kept at the home survived, and was put up for adoption last July.

Court documents also showed that officers found dog fighting books and magazines in Silver’s own home. Silver was denied bond in a court appearance on April 7, 2017.

“We found all types of equipment that can be used for dog fighting,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Anton Bell.

Tuesday’s Alford plea, a guilty-plea without admitting guilt, also avoided a trial by jury.

“He (Silver) could potentially get all 110 years from a jury,” Bell explained.

From their investigation, Bell said Silver admitted the dogs were his, but hadn’t been able to care for the dogs because he had gotten sick.

The judge accepted Silver’s Alford plea to 21 felonies and dozens of misdemeanors. Bell said this case is a statement for the city.

“This person is a repeat offender, we wanna send a message that this is not tolerable in our city,” Bell said.

A prosecutor sending a strong message on animal cruelty in Hampton.