The trial of a Colorado horse breeder accused of animal cruelty is underway. Ten horses and four llamas were seized from Sherri Brunzell after they were found living with their former stablemates’ decomposing bodies last September.
Jurors heard opening statements from the prosecution about underweight horses that hadn’t had veterinary care due to Brunzell’s lack of funds. Fourteen carcasses and manure stacked several feet high led to unsanitary conditions where the animals were left to reside.
The court saw before and after photos of the horses, including Dual Peppy, who brought international attention to the case. The famous cutting stallion has gained more than 100 pounds since he was seized from Brunzell. The other horses have also gained weight, according to prosecutors.
The defense said Brunzell did not abuse her horses. Once the dead horses were discovered, Brunzell’s attorney states his client was complying with a notice to get rid of the carcasses. He states three days later, due to public pressure, authorities seized the horses.
The first prosecution witnesses took the stand Tuesday afternoon. Denise Pipher, one of the two people that stumbled upon the grizzly scene, testified there was no food for the horses. She also told the court the horses’ water barrels were empty.
Two deputies first on the scene, including Deputy Larry Murphy with the El Paso County Sherrif’s Department Mounted Unit, were also called to the stand. Deputy Murphy testified there was water in some places and there were five bales of hay stacked. The horses did not have access to any of the hay he testified. Deputy Murphy noted the horses feet were long, but wavered regarding how emaciated the horses were.
Brunzell pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of animal cruelty.