A father and son who ran a breeding enterprise with quartz horses in Helena Valley have been convicted on Wednesday of aggravated animal cruelty and ordered to pay the county $ 323,292.36 in damages for caring for the 58 horses taken from their property.
The punishment for Robert and Alan Erickson, which generally grew to become corrosive, was earlier than Lewis and Clark County District Courtroom Decide Kathy Seeley, who rejected the prosecutor’s request to condemn the boys to 180 days in jail. There can be no early discharge from supervision.
Nonetheless, they obtained a six-year suspended sentence the place the couple Erickson couldn’t personal or maintain horses. The horses which can be faraway from their property is not going to be returned and could have new properties. And there can be no early launch from the six-year suspended sentence.
“This was not a livelihood, that is some type of odd pastime these guys had,” Seeley stated.
Lewis and Clark’s Deputy County Prosecutor Fallon Stanton was happy with the choose’s choice.
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“I am glad we have lastly received them to maneuver on to a greater place,” she stated of the horses.
Robert Erickson’s lawyer, Carl Jensen, stated that his consumer plans to attraction.
Through the verdict, it was revealed that Ericksons now had a goat on his property, which led the choose to say throughout the verdict, “I don’t intend to take care of the goat, I am sorry.”
The Erickson household ran a quarter-horse breeding operation that was looted by the Lewis and 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 the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton stated earlier that the horses are actually in several areas.
County-contracted veterinarians discovered that lots of the horses confirmed indicators of neglect. One of many horses needed to be killed whereas in Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Workplaces custody attributable to negligence.
Alan Erickson beforehand made a deal in change for his act of contrition and a jury discovered Robert Erickson responsible in April.
Robert Erickson, who stated his trial “was a complete lot of lies”, informed officers he had important property, however he didn’t wish to reveal a sum.
However on Wednesday, he estimated the worth of the horses taken from his property by the county at $ 3 million, noting that one of many horses was a priced breed.
Lawyer Ellie Boldman, who represented Alan Erickson, stated the horses ought to have stayed on the property with Ericksons and had supervised care. Boldman, a consultant of the Democratic state, stated when Montana adjustments, it’s dropping its sanity.
“The federal government didn’t have the precise to do what it did on this case,” she stated, including that her consumer was a person who loves horses.
One other of Robert Erickson’s sons, Clayton, was arrested exterior the county courthouse in April on arrest warrant for a former DUI. He entered into an settlement on deferred prosecution which was filed on April 8. So long as he doesn’t violate the phrases of the settlement, the cost of animal cruelty can be written off in 5 years.
In 2018, an animal management official responded to a name about an injured horse caught in barbed wire at an deal with on Fantasy Street, from which the Erickson household was later evicted, officers stated.
The officer reported that he noticed grazing areas that “have been poorly maintained with items of wire and a considerable amount of particles strewn on the bottom. The grazing land was nothing however stone, dust and particles with no vegetation wherever,” the assertion stated.
The authorized proceedings proceed with detailed data on the continued monitoring of the actions of the animal management officer. Horses have been discovered with lacerations, hernias, low again accidents, cracked hooves and intensive carpets.
Seeley stated the proof was offered on the trial and that the jury reached its choice. She stated she has not heard from a veterinarian who helps the defendants’ self-serving statements.
She stated she didn’t suppose the Erickson household have been dangerous individuals at coronary heart, however they weren’t outfitted to maintain horses.
Dutton stated on Wednesday that he was pleased with the choose’s choice.
“We’re glad that is over,” he stated, including that the sheriff’s division had offered a plan for her consideration.
He additionally thanked everybody who has helped to maintain the horses.
“I’m grateful for the assist of volunteers and residents of this county,” Dutton stated.
Footage: Seized horses are fed and watered thrice a day
Assistant Editor Phil Drake could be reached at 406-231-9021.