Males in Helena Valley animal cruelty case owe $ 323,292 to county | Native

A father and son who ran a Helena Valley Quarter Horse breeding operation had been convicted on Wednesday of felony legal misconduct and ordered to pay the county $ 323,292.36 in compensation for the care of 58 horses seized from their property greater than a yr in the past.

A 3-hour listening to for Robert and Alan Erickson, which typically grew to become harsh, happened earlier than Decide Lewis and Clark County District Courtroom Decide Katie Seeley, who rejected the prosecution’s request to condemn the boys to 180 days in jail. There might be no early dismissal.

Nevertheless, they obtained six years of suspended imprisonment, for which the Ericksons couldn’t personal or take care of horses. Horses seized from their property won’t return and can obtain new properties. And there might be no early launch from the six-year reprieve.

“It wasn’t a supply of livelihood, it is a bizarre passion for these guys,” Sealey mentioned.

Lewis and Clark County Legal professional Normal Fallon Stanton was happy with the decide’s resolution.

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“I am glad we have lastly moved to a greater place,” she mentioned of the horses.

Protection legal professional Carl Jensen spoke with Decide Katie Seeley in the course of the listening to of Robert and Alan Erickson’s verdict in Lewis and Clark District Courtroom on Wednesday.

THOM BRIDGE, Unbiased File

Robert Erickson’s lawyer, Carl Jensen, mentioned his consumer was planning to attraction.

Through the sentencing, it grew to become clear that the Ericksons now had a goat of their possession, prompting the decide in the course of the sentencing to say, “I am not going to cope with a goat, sorry.”

The Ericksons led a horse breeding operation performed on June 1, 2021 by the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Workplace. Practically 60 horses had been seized by sheriff’s deputies, a U.S. Forest Service ranger and a Division of Animal Husbandry officer, and moved to Lewis. and the Clark County Honest.

Earlier, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton mentioned the horses at the moment are elsewhere.

Contract veterinarians have discovered that many horses present indicators of neglect. One of many horses was euthanized whereas in custody on the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Workplace resulting from negligence.

Dr. Jamie Clark, Veterinarian, vol

Dr. Jamie Clark, a veterinarian, testified concerning the situations below which the horses had been seized throughout Wednesday’s sentencing listening to.

THOM BRIDGE, Unbiased File

Horse veterinarian Jamie Clark, who cared for the horses on behalf of the county, mentioned Wednesday that her follow had decreased the invoice by 25 p.c for her companies. She mentioned the businesses donated $ 6,000 in vaccines and $ 2,000 in dietary supplements to assist horses. Clark additionally mentioned volunteers donated 1000’s of {dollars} on the time. She didn’t assume that among the horses could be very worthwhile in the event that they had been bought.

She described a few of them as “geriatric, unlikely to be helpful in any capability aside from a pasture that may be stroked and liked.” Clark mentioned many horses are prone to promote for about $ 1,000.

Alan Erickson had beforehand entered into an settlement in trade for a responsible plea, and in April a jury discovered Robert Erickson responsible.

Robert Erickson, who mentioned his trial was “a bunch of lies”, advised officers he had vital belongings however didn’t disclose the overall quantity.

However on Wednesday, he estimated the worth of horses confiscated from his county property at $ 3 million, noting that one of many horses was a worthwhile horse.

Lawyer Ellie Baldman, who represented Alan Erickson, mentioned the horses needed to keep within the Erickson territory and watch over them. Boldman, a spokesman for the Democratic State, mentioned the modifications in Montana had been dropping widespread sense.

“The federal government had no proper to do what it did on this case,” she mentioned, including that her consumer was a person who liked horses.

Robert Erickson’s different son, Clayton, was arrested close to the district courthouse in April on a earlier DUI warrant. He entered right into a deferred prosecution settlement filed on April 8. If he doesn’t violate the phrases of the settlement, the accusation of animal cruelty might be dropped in 5 years.

In 2018, an animal management officer answered a name a few wounded horse hooked with barbed wire at Fantasy Highway, from which the Ericksons had been later evicted.

The officer mentioned he was watching pastures that “had been poorly maintained with sections of wire and many garbage scattered on the bottom. The pasture was nothing however stones, dust and particles with none vegetation, “the assertion mentioned.

The court docket paperwork then element the continuing monitoring of the operation by the animal management officer. The horses had been discovered with lacerations, hernias, decrease again accidents, cracked hooves and a big mat.

Seeley mentioned the proof was introduced in court docket, and the jury made its resolution. She mentioned she had not heard of any veterinarian confirming the defendants’ egocentric allegations.

Sili mentioned she did not assume the Ericksons had been dangerous individuals on the core, however they weren’t outfitted to deal with the horses.

On Wednesday, Dutton mentioned he was happy with the decide’s resolution.

“We’re glad it is over,” he mentioned, including that the sheriff’s division had submitted a plan to her.

He additionally thanked all of the individuals who helped deal with the horses.

“I’m grateful for the help of volunteers and residents of this county,” Dutton mentioned.

Editor-in-Chief Phil Drake could be reached at 406-231-9021.

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