BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Former Rogers Police Department Officer Jerri Michelle Beyard, 39, appeared in Benton County Circuit Court on July 18 for her arraignment on felony animal cruelty charges.

She entered a plea of not guilty and will have a pretrial hearing in court on September 12.

Beyard was arrested on May 19 after investigators discovered the bodies of three “extremely decomposed” dead dogs at her residence, where she allegedly left them without food or water for several months. In a non-custodial interview with police on May 10, Beyard admitted to abandoning the dogs there.

A criminal information sheet filed by Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Gean on July 15 charged her with aggravated animal cruelty, stating, “To Wit: On and between, September 2021 and May 2022, the Defendant did knowingly torture three dogs when she abandoned them in a house, and did not give them any food or water, until the dogs eventually died.”

On May 24, Jay Saxton, her court-appointed public defender, submitted a filing to the court noting that it had been “determined in reviewing the facts that a conflict with the representation of the Defendant, Jerri Michelle Beyard, exists under Arkansas Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.7(a).” A different attorney was appointed for her on June 27.