GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - A Goose Creek man pleaded guilty to 10 counts of animal cruelty in connection to a 2013 incident where 45 dogs in poor condition and the remains of 200 dogs were found at a home.
On Monday, a judge accepted Loney Garrett's guilty plea with sentencing to be decided at a later date.
Loney could face up to five years for each charge.
Garrett originally faced 43 charges of animal cruelty, but 33 counts were dropped.
Garrett's lawyer said his client was pleading guilty, but maintained his innocence. According to Garrett's lawyer, they feared if Garrett went to trial he would have been convicted of all 43 counts.
Nearly a dozen people in the courtroom on Monday wore black shirts and big stickers saying "Justice."
On Feb. 11, 2013, investigators discovered the remains of more than 200 dogs at a home on Howe Hall Road. In addition, authorities say 45 dogs "in very poor condition" were rescued from the residence.
SPCA officials said that it took over a year for the surviving dogs to be adopted, except one which was in bad shape that it had to be put down. According to the SPCA, the surviving dogs showed signs of malnourishment and had parasites.
The dogs are a mix of walker hounds, beagles, and hounds.
The investigation began when residents called the sheriff's office and the Berkeley County Animal Control complaining about bad odors and signs of animal abuse at the home on Howe Hall Road.
Investigators then obtained a search warrant and ended up picking up "thousands of dog bones" in the woods behind the property.
"That's when they began to uncover the gravity of the situation," said Berkeley Co. Sheriff's Office spokesman Dan Moon at the time of the incident. "It's a terrible sight...when you look at the carcasses of the animals and the bones everywhere...it's horrific."
Berkeley County Sheriff's Office investigators say most of the dogs died because of neglect, while others were killed outright.
Moon said some of the dogs had bullet holes in their heads.