So... Here's anoter update:
A Roane magistrate has awarded the county custody of 20 horses removed from a Reedy farm after a hearing in magistrate court.
Horse owner Tory Morgan, 41, remains in jail on 36 misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty.
The charges claim she failed to care for horses she brought from Pennsylvania when she moved to a farm on Seaman Fork in August.
Sixteen of the 42 horses were dead when members of the Roane Sheriff’s Dept. visited the farm last month, the charges allege.
Another six horses were not found. Police said Morgan claimed the six were discovered shot in October, although she never reported the incident.
On Tuesday, Magistrate Ron White heard from a deputy who visited the farm Jan. 18 and found dead and malnourished horses.
Lt. Jeff Smith of the Roane Sheriff’s Dept. testified that several of the horses that were alive had protruding ribs and hip bones.
“It appeared the skin was just hanging on them,” he said.
Smith said most of the dead horses were within 40-50 yards of the camper where Morgan lived. “They were laying around all over the place,” according to Smith, who said one of the carcasses was inside the shed where the camper was located.
The next day more officers returned with a search warrant and removed the 20 horses that were still alive from the farm.
According to information presented at the hearing, Dick Mullen, who sold the 75-acre farm to Morgan, buried the dead animals after the others were removed.
Smith said the day he visited the farm he saw only eight round bales of hay, all in a pasture the horses could not reach. He saw only a small amount of grain on the farm and three or four empty grain bags.
He said Morgan showed him the area where she fed the horses, but he saw no evidence of hay or grain.
The state veterinarian and two state animal inspectors visited the farm with the deputies.
Morgan’s court-appointed attorney, David Moore of Ripley, pointed out the vet had rated the horses’ condition on a scale of 1-9.
He said one rated as high as 8, which he said was considered “fat,” while others were rated as low as 1 on the scale.
“These animals ran the gamut from one to eight,” Moore said.
Moore said there was no evidence of negligence.
“I don’t think the state has met their burden of proof,” he told White.
Prosecutor Josh Downey disagreed. “We have 16 dead horses,” he said.
Downey asked that Morgan post bond of $20 per horse – $400 a day – to care for the animals until custody is determined.
He said Morgan had five days to respond to the notice of seizure and request a hearing, but her response was not filed until the sixth day.
Morgan said she could not answer because she was in jail.
About a week after officers visited her farm, she said she was asked to come to the sheriff’s office after she left work at an insurance office in Parkersburg.
“I thought I was going there to clear things up,” she told White. “Instead I was arrested and I’ve been in jail ever since.”
She asked that the hearing on custody of the horses be continued, but White denied the request.
Morgan also was in court last Thursday to ask that her bond be reduced. White denied that request as well. Downey opposed lowering the bond, saying Morgan had no significant ties to the area.
On Tuesday, Morgan said being in jail was hurting her ability to defend herself on the charges.
She said she had receipts for horse feed and other evidence she wanted to present, but she could not get it from her home because she was incarcerated.
“I have no family down here. I know nobody,” she said, asking White to continue the hearing.
She said the only person she knew in this area could not read, so he could not go to her home and retrieve the documents she needed.
Arguing against a continuance, Downey said Morgan’s mother had come down from Pennsylvania to pick up some small pets from her home following her arrest, which did not come until about a week after officers first visited her farm.
“This was no surprise,” Downey said, adding, “There is some urgency to moving these proceedings along.”
Downey said several donations of grain, hay and money have been received to care for the horses, but the county must pay a deputy for two to four hours of overtime a day to care for the animals.
He said after Tuesday’s hearing, the county would try to find temporary homes for the horses. Morgan could still appeal the magistrate’s ruling to circuit court.
Facing up to 18 years in jail and $72,000 in fines if convicted on all the charges, Morgan has asked for a jury trial. Downey said a date had not been set, but it would likely be in April.
White’s ruling did not address the condition of the horses, only that Morgan was late in filing a response. It also did not address the prosecutor’s request that Morgan post bond to care for the animals, so Downey said the county would have to bear the cost, at least until a ruling is made.
David Moore... Not enough proof??
Jesus, what does he want, the whole bloody lot of them to be dead?
I surely hope that her jury has a lot more common sense that that f&&&ing idiot.