Males in Helena Valley case of animal cruelty ordered to pay county $ 323,292 in damages | Native

A father and son who ran a Helena Valley Quarter Horse breeding operation have been on Wednesday convicted of aggravated animal cruelty and sentenced to pay the county $ 323,292.36 in compensation to look after the 58 horses taken from their property for a couple of years in the past.

The three-hour sentencing for Robert and Alan Erickson, which generally turned corrosive, was for Lewis and Clark County District Court docket Choose Kathy Seeley, who rejected the prosecution’s request to condemn the boys to 180 days in jail. There will probably be no early discharge from supervision.

Nonetheless, they obtained a six-year suspended sentence the place the Erickson household couldn’t personal or look after horses. The horses faraway from their property won’t be returned and can have new properties. And there can be no early launch from the six-year suspended sentence.

“This was not a livelihood, it is a type of unusual interest these guys had,” Seeley stated.

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

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“I am glad we have lastly obtained them on to a greater place,” she stated of the horses.

Protection lawyer Carl Jensen speaks with Choose Kathy Seeley in the course of the sentencing of Robert and Alan Erickson in Lewis and Clark District Court docket on Wednesday.

THOM BRIDGE, Impartial Document

Robert Erickson’s lawyer, Carl Jensen, stated his shopper plans to attraction.

Through the sentencing, it was revealed that Ericksons now had a goat on their property, prompting the decide to say in the course of the sentencing: “I am not going to cope with the goat, I am sorry.”

The Erickson household ran a Quarter Horse breeding operation that was attacked by Lewis and the Clark County Sheriff’s Workplace on June 1, 2021. Practically 60 horses have been seized by the sheriff’s deputy, a U.S. Forest Service Ranger and a Division of Livestock worker, and moved to Lewis and Clark County Fairground.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton stated earlier that the horses at the moment are in other places.

County-contracted veterinarians discovered that most of the horses confirmed indicators of neglect. One of many horses needed to be euthanized whereas within the custody of Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Workplaces on account of the neglect.

Dr.  Jamie Clark, an equine veterinarian, t

Dr. Jamie Clark, an equine veterinarian, testified concerning the situations of the seized horses throughout Wednesday’s sentencing.

THOM BRIDGE, Impartial Document

Equine veterinarian Jamie Clark, who had cared for the horses on behalf of the county, testified Wednesday that her apply gave a 25% low cost on the invoice for her companies. She stated $ 6,000 in vaccines and $ 2,000 in dietary supplements have been donated by corporations to assist the horses. Clark additionally stated volunteers donated 1000’s of {dollars} of their time. She didn’t assume that among the horses can be of excessive worth in the event that they have been bought.

She described some as being “geriatric, unlikely to be helpful in any capability aside from a garden that may be cuddled and liked.” Clark stated most of the horses would possible be bought for round $ 1,000.

Alan Erickson has beforehand reached an settlement in alternate for his responsible plea, and a jury discovered Robert Erickson responsible in April.

Robert Erickson, who stated his lawsuit “was a complete lot of lies,” instructed officers he had vital belongings, however he wouldn’t disclose a complete.

However on Wednesday, he estimated the worth of the horses taken from his property by the county to be $ 3 million, noting that one of many horses was a valued stud.

Legal professional Ellie Boldman, who represented Alan Erickson, stated the horses ought to have stayed on the property with Ericksons and supervised care. Boldman, a Democratic state consultant, stated that when Montana modifications, it is shedding its sanity.

“The federal government didn’t have the precise to do what it did on this case,” she stated, including that her shopper was a person who loves horses.

One other of Robert Erickson’s sons, Clayton, was arrested outdoors the county courthouse in April on a warrant for a former DUI. He entered into an settlement on deferred prosecution filed on April 8. So long as he doesn’t violate the phrases of the settlement, the animal cruelty cost will probably be dismissed in 5 years.

In 2018, an animal management officer responded to a name a few wounded horse trapped in barbed wire at an handle on Fantasy Street, from which Ericksons was later thrown out, officers stated.

The officer reported that he noticed grasslands that have been “poorly maintained with sections of wire and a considerable amount of particles strewn on the bottom. The pasture was nothing however rocks, grime and particles with no vegetation anyplace,” the assertion stated.

The court docket paperwork proceed to element the continued monitoring of the operation of the animal management employee. Horses have been discovered with tears, hernias, lumbar accidents, cracked hooves and intensive mats.

Seeley stated the proof was introduced in the course of the trial and the jury reached its resolution. She stated she has not heard from a veterinarian who helps the defendants’ egocentric statements.

Seeley stated she didn’t assume the Ericksons have been dangerous individuals at their core, however they weren’t outfitted to take care of horses.

Dutton stated Wednesday he was happy with the decide’s resolution.

“We’re happy that that is over,” he stated, including that the sheriff’s division had submitted a plan for her consideration.

He additionally thanked all of the individuals who have helped take care of the horses.

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

Assistant Editor Phil Drake may be contacted at 406-231-9021.

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