MARION — A trial set to begin today for a man and wife charged with neglect and lying to police about a fatal dog attack on the woman’s 87-year-old mother has been delayed while attorneys work toward a plea agreement.

Linda A. Kitchen, 58, and Michael T. Kitchen, 49, both of Marion, are each charged with four counts in connection with the May 1, 2005, mauling of Julia Beck, who died in Fort Wayne’s Parkview Hospital about two weeks after the attack.

Michael Kitchen’s attorney Jerry Drook said the defense asked the Grant County Superior Court judge for the delay because it anticipated the defendants would plead guilty in the next couple of weeks.

“I anticipate that being how the case will be resolved,” Drook said. “But it will be sometime in late July or early August.”

Linda Kitchen’s attorney Bruce Elliott said negotiations continued and declined further comment.

The Kitchens each face a felony count of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, two felony counts of obstruction of justice and one misdemeanor count of false informing.

The couple originally told police that a stray Rottweiler and another dog entered the home through a slightly ajar door and attacked Beck while she was on a chair in her living room.

After an extensive search for the dogs, Marion police investigators concluded that the canines that mauled Beck actually belonged to the Kitchens.

The couple destroyed evidence, including clothing Beck was wearing and dog feces from the property in the city about 50 miles southwest of Fort Wayne, court documents said. Beck had been was attached to an oxygen machine to help her breathe when she was attacked, police said

A new trial date had not been scheduled, and Linda and Michael Kitchen were being held in the Grant County Jail on separate $100,000 bonds.

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