Nearly two years after the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office filed five primary misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty and five alternative counts against James H. Leachman, the familiar name in the agriculture industry is now in court. If convicted on all counts, Leachman could face a maximum sentence of 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Our television partners at KTVQ in Billings have been monitoring this trial. Here are the highlights from their coverage:
- According to testimony from Turk Stovall, Leachman made no attempts to retrieve his horses or other belongings on the former Leachman property after it was sold to Stovall.
- Neighboring landowner Donald Lee testified that he recalled seeing Leachman look at the injured horses but that he never did anything to attend to or doctor the horses. This was echoed by other witnesses.
- At the time of the filing of the legal charges, it was estimated that as many as 450 horses were on the ranch with very little feed. While a community effort got hay to the animals, it was predicted that the animals would have begun dying in a few weeks without it. A few horses were put down and others had wounds from wearing identification leg bands that veterinarian Dr. Jenifer Gold called “too tight.”
In April of 2011, a sale was conducted to disperse the horses abandoned on the property. All-in-all, 802 horses were sold for a price of $380,365. After the expenses accrued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (believed to be around $150,000) and others in getting this sale together were reimbursed, the remaining profits went to Leachman.
Leachman owned a cattle empire in Montana for the better part of four decades before turning to horses. The trial is continuing today (Thursday) in Billings. For updates, visit www.KTVQ.com.
© Northern Ag Network 2012