After more than one year of litigation, charges of 100 counts each of second-degree animal neglect (Class B misdemeanors) have been dismissed against Byrde Lynn Hill and Frank Baxter, both of Western Washington.

In February 2011, Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen seized custody of 100 head of Lusitano and Andalusia horses belonging to Hill and Baxter, married but estranged at the time, because the herd of expensive horses on a ranch near Troy were “ … in various stages of poor condition and without food or access to water,” according to Wallowa County Circuit Court records.

Wallowa County District Attorney Mona Williams said she based her decision to drop the charges on two points of law: (1) Hill, 78, the party personally responsible for the care of the horses at the time of the legal violation, has been determined to be mentally incompetent, hence can’t be held accountable for her actions; and (2) Proving that Baxter, too, is accountable for the care of the horses during the contested Feb. 21-24, 2011, timeframe when food and water was not available to the animals would, at best, be challenging and expensive.

See the Chieftain's March 28 issue for the complete story.

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