Animal cruelty case moves to District Court |

Animal cruelty case moves to District Court

— A case is now in District Court involving a fifth-generation Routt County rancher accused of shooting a neighbor’s bulls in the scrotums, killing one of them.

The defendant also faces three felonies and two misdemeanors in Summit County related to a domestic issue.

In Routt County, the defendant has been charged with five felonies. The charges are criminal mischief, theft of agricultural animals, attempted theft of agricultural animals and two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals.

The defendant’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

According to a search warrant, another longtime South Routt County rancher learned in June that two of his breeding bulls had been shot. The incident was  reported to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.

One of the bulls was located and taken to Steamboat Veterinary Hospital with injuries consistent with being shot. A veterinarian concluded the bull would live, but it would not be able to reproduce.

The next day, a second dead bull was found with what also appeared to be a gunshot wound.

The veterinarian told deputies the bulls were in their prime for breeding, and they each could be worth between $6,000 and $20,000.

A deputy spoke to the defendant’s wife and learned she had been with the defendant on property they lease for raising cattle located at 23375 Routt County Road 14 near Oak Creek.

The defendant’s wife said she and the defendant found a couple of loose bulls on their property. According to the warrant, the defendant went to his truck, returned with a rifle and shot at one of the bulls.

“She stated that she asked (the defendant) what he was doing, and he stated that he was shooting the bulls in their balls,” the warrant states. The wife “stated that (the defendant) told her that he learned this from his grandfather.”

The wife said she got upset, and the defendant shot a second bull, the warrant states. In total, the warrant states the defendant took three or four shots at the bulls.

The wife said the defendant was mad because the bulls were on their property, and the defendant had talked to the bulls’ owner about them being on their property a few days earlier. The wife said the defendant stated that he believed he had every right to shoot the bulls because they were on his property.

During a search of his truck, deputies found a Marlin 30-30 bolt-action rifle and took it into evidence.

In July, the sheriff’s office secured a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. He turned himself in at the Mesa County Jail and was released after posting bond the same day. He was scheduled to appear in District Court on Wednesday, but that hearing was delayed until Jan. 23.

In August, a woman reported being hurt by the defendant during a domestic incident at a hotel in Silverthorne, according to a warrant.

The defendant was subsequently arrested Sept. 24 and charged with 12 offenses in Summit County. He was released from jail after posting the $250,000 bond set by a judge.

Some of the charges have since been dismissed.

“Currently, there are three felony charges and two misdemeanor charges we are moving forward on,” said former Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle, who is now a deputy district attorney in Summit County.

The defendant is scheduled for an arraignment Jan. 12 in Summit County. During arraignments, defendants typically enter a plea and trial dates are set, if necessary.

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