Friday, September 5, 2008

Courtroom Antics

I jokingly call Dr. Miller "the Jack Bauer of the courtroom" because he's one tough cookie who won't back down. It's because of the hard work and tenacity of Dr. Miller, the Sonoma CHANGE Program, Sonoma County Animal Care & Control and the Sonoma County District Attorney's office that we even have an Argus to blog about. Without their efforts, Argus would still be a nameless soul stuck in hell on a dirty 3-acre farmette. Without their efforts, Argus' former owner would not be facing two felony counts of animal cruelty. It's taken more than 15 years to bring this woman to justice. Here's where things stand:

The defendant smartly gave up an August trial in favor of a plea bargain, which means she agreed to plead guilty to the charges in exchange for a lesser penalty. It's done all the time. Pushing a case to trial is time consuming and opens one up to the whims of a jury, and many juries just don't take kindly to horse abusers. Today, a plea bargain hearing took place. The outcome made those of us working to save the last four horses pleased. The judge offered the defendant a good deal which involves giving up her animals and serving probation. The defendant did not like the offer, and asked to go to trial anyway. The judge gave her 7 days to decide whether to accept the plea bargain. If she opts to go to trial, we will be in for many more months of the legal process in action. A trial could be very bad for her.

So we'll know more next Friday, when the next hearing takes place, and we find out whether the defendant will accept the deal on the table or continue professing her innocence and push for a trial. It sucks, but that's how the system works. This convoluted and incredibly fair (most of the time) judicial process is part of what makes our country a good place to live. We have the right to a trial.

The defendant would be wise to accept the judge's offer. But she might not, because she's a hoarder, and hoarders don't think like normal people. They hold onto their animals until the bitter end and would prefer to take their animals down with them.

For now, the four horses remain in the defendant's possession. They are not safe.

I drive by the four horses every two weeks. They are not suffering. They are neglected but are living out in pasture. They have not been locked up like Argus. Their feet are long, but I've seen worse. They have foundered in the past, so that's the biggest worry about them. Their manes are knotted and dreadlocked just like Argus' mane was. Their tails are matted and awful. But they are not suffering terribly at this point. They are all Trakehner/Arabian crosses, very pretty horses, mostly in their late teens. One is gray. Their names are Sammy, Athena, Starmaker and something else I can't remember.

All we can do is say some prayers this week. We will know next Friday, September 12, what will happen next. I will post a case update as soon as I know something.

In the meantime, please say a little prayer that the defendant will return to court next Friday and accept the plea bargain.


cdncowgirl said...

1- Is there any news on Argie's adoption???

2- Is there any risk that this nutjob would do something to harm her horses in the coming week?

Anonymous said...

Another question - is Argus' sister one of the four horses, or has she already been rescued? Thank you for all the hard work you are doing for Argus and the other horses.

Katie said...

Yes, the nutjob could very well do away with her horses any day now. We're hoping the fact that she's a hoarder will prevent her from doing so.

Will post on Argus' adoption soon.

Argus' half sister is one of the horses still present on the property.

Six horses were originally on the property. Argus and Bobby (both rescued 12/07) were kept in pipe pens, the other four were kept out in pasture.

Amy Jo said...

why cant these horses be impounded? this is why we need stronger and better laws for animals everywhere in the USA. Always people complain "but what about children, dont spend money or time on laws for animals, we need to spend on children" but this is what happens to animals when there are namby pamby pro agriculture laws. If these were children they would have been removed 11 years ago and the woman in jail. Horses, though, are allowed to live in hell bc they are agriculture. it makes me so angry. The horse should have been impounded at the first knowledge of abuse and the owner refusing to care for them properly. This owner should get a trial and then she can go to jail.

Katie said...

Amy Jo, the difference between horses and children is that the horses are considered PROPERTY, and the children are not.

It takes some serious abuse/neglect before CPS will go in and "seize" children. It takes far more before Animal Control will go in and seize someone's property --- a horse.

Seizing them is easy. Caring for them and housing them and paying for their needs is not. Who will do this? People aren't exactly lining up to take on unrideable, lame, special needs horses.

Remember that people are working toward a goal, which is to put a permanent end to the misery on this particular piece of property. Unfortunately, that takes time. go in now and seize those horses, and a hoarder will only replace them with more.

Susan said...

Thank you for the update, I have been checking multiple times per day! Hopefully, she will not only lose her horses but the judge will order her to not own any more animals in the future.

SouthernBelle said...

it just goes to show you that the former owner is crazy - any normal person under charges for animal cruelty/negligence would have every animal under their care looking sharp as a tack, not all matted and long-hoofed. what a nutjob.

Holly said...

waiting is always the hardest part.

thank you for all you have done on behalf of Argus and the others. There are so many people who talk the talk but when it comes time to step up on that stand they wish to remain anonymous and not stand for those in need.

I would think she will not do away with the animals left in her care. If she has an attorney, s/he would very likely advise against that (though advice obviously means little or nothing to her). She might, but I think it more likely that she would continue as she has done in the past. My guess is that she is stalling in hopes it will all just go away.

thank you too, for the update. Hugs to you during this hard time of waiting.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly. If you've already had 2 horses removed by the authorities and awaiting court proceedings, you'd think a "normal" person would make sure the others would look their best. Only shows this person is mentally challenged and should not own animals. I can only hope God didn't allow her to give birth, can only imagine the life that her children lead.
Hopefully justice will prevail and the animals will be saved and she can get help. Maybe good things can come from bad.
Katie, I will continue to send you Reiki in hopes you can continue your wonderful things.
Patti C. Connecticut

Kim said...

I said a little prayer that justice will prevail and the hoarder will be stopped.

I hope that on Friday...good news will be posted that the remaining 4 horses will be free at last.

I have read Argus' blog from the start...I wish him all of the best. I will miss hearing about Argus' once he is adopted.

cdncowgirl said...

Katie - until you write a book about Argus and everyone and get all the recognition that will come then... you have an award on my blog for you.
Stop by to pic it up (its in the post titled "Sooooo... I'm a Dumbass" (trust me the post explains it all! lol)

Schnitzie said...

Is there any news on Argus' former owner and any developments from the hearing on September 12th?

So thrilled about Argus' adoption, but also so worried about those 4 other horses.