California dressage trainer Gwen Stockebrand was arraigned on a felony charge of animal cruelty for allegedly starving one of her horses. She did not enter a plea.
Instead, the defense filed a motion on demurrer – challenging the legal language in the criminal complaint. Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell says his office’s plea offer has since been withdrawn. The offer stated that if Stockebrand accepted responsibility prior to her preliminary hearing, jail alternatives would be accepted, however she could not care for or own horses among other potential penalties.
Stockebrand is not a stranger to the legal process. In 2004, a possession of a controlled substance case was dismissed when she successfully completed the Drug Court program, according to court records.
The complaint filed on December 14 states that Stockebrand failed to provide the Thoroughbred mare, Valerie, with the proper food and drink “from about the 1st day of June, 2011 through the 8th day of September, 2011.”
The condition of the bay mare Stockebrand allegedly starved continues to slowly improve. “Valerie ran though the pasture for the first time. I’ve never seen her do more than walk since she’s been here,” says the rescue’s operator Betsy Bueno.
Rate My Horse PRO contacted Stockebrand’s defense attorney who said she wanted to make a statement on behalf of her client, however we did not receive it prior to publishing. Stockebrand is represented by Maggie and Robert Weems of Weems Law Offices.
A judge may determine the validity of the demurrer at the next scheduled hearing on January 5.