Outfitter says 'not guilty' to animal cruelty

Sep 1, 2017 From wire reports

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) -- A Wyoming outfitter has pleaded not guilty to an animal cruelty charge related to his treatment of a horse.

Attorney Dick Mulligan filed the plea Wednesday on behalf of his client, Forest Stearns, in Teton County Circuit Court.

Court clerk David Baker said a trial will likely be scheduled about four months from now. A date has not been scheduled.

Stearns was cited for animal cruelty last week by the Teton County Sheriff's Office after an investigation into the Aug. 8 death of a horse owned by Stearns. A witness said Stearns tied down a horse for at least three hours before the horse died.

Sheriff Jim Whalen says Stearns told deputies the horse was tied for 60 to 90 minutes because Stearns was going to shoe it.

Whalen didn't release the name of the witness who contradicted Stearns.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reported that a video was posted online that appears to show Stearns "hog-tying" the horse while a neighbor asks him to stop. The paper describes the video as showing the horse "lying on its side with its legs tied to a post" and "violently kicking;" the videographer says the horse is bleeding, then Stearns asks her to leave the property.

Animal cruelty is a misdemeanor, with penalties of up to $750 in fines and up to six months in jail.

The Jackson Hole paper says this isn't the first complaint about Stearns' treatment of horses, and court records show he's been arrested for multiple DUIS and has been under investigation for family battery.

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