A California warmblood breeder accused of abusing her horses is scheduled to go to trial in May.
Jill Burnell of Marin County is charged with five misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, five misdemeanor counts of keeping an animal without proper care, and two misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. Her husband, Alex Burnell, faces the same charges.
The jury trial is slated to begin on May 12. The Burnells have pleaded not guilty and are represented by attorney Maggie Weems. If found guilty, the Gray Fox Farm owners could face jail time and fines, according to court documents.
Marin Humane Society Animal Services began investigating Gray Fox Farm in the fall of 2012. A total of four horses were seized from Gray Fox Farm including Devil’s Sis. The mare had a Body Condition Score of 2 out of 9, according to officials. The seized horses remain in the care of animal services.
According to court documents, an Oldenburg mare named Radieschen (top) “was removed from the property at the defendants’ direction” by a woman who said she purchased the horse. Documents state the extremely thin, pregnant mare was euthanized on January 3, 2013 “due to [her] extremely poor condition.”
A 26-day preliminary hearing ended in late December 2013, before the now retired Marin Superior Court Judge James Ritchie. Weeks later, the defense filed a demurrer alleging numerous issues with the state’s case and seeking its dismissal.
The prosecution stated in its opposition, the “defendants regurgitate arguments made, litigated, and decided previously by Judge Ritchie. As the procedural history of this case clearly demonstrates, defendants seek repetitive litigation of issues in an effort to obtain ruling contrary to those exhaustively litigated before this Court.”
The court agreed with the district attorney and denied the defense’s motions.
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