Mixed verdict in Kandi Crow animal neglect case
Possession of neglected animals doesn't mean you're guilty of neglect, a judge ruled Thursday in the latest case against Illinois Valley horse trader Kandi Crow.
Josephine County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Hull found Crow, 66, not guilty of neglecting miniature horses in her care last spring, 11 potential felonies in all, but did convict her on 13 misdemeanor counts of unlawfully possessing them, along with a dog and cats.
A date for sentencing has yet to be set. Crow faces more than a year in custody on the misdemeanor counts.
Three years ago, Crow was convicted of 22 counts related to animal neglect and abuse in a high profile case involving the seizure of more than 170 horses and other animals, some of which were so sick they had to be euthanized.
In addition to 40 days in custody, she was ordered to have no contact with animals during five years of probation — not even a "hamster," a judge said at the time. The case cost county taxpayers more than $300,000 to care for the animals after the seizure.
The 2013 incident wasn't the first time Crow had been in trouble for hoarding animals. In 2006, county Animal Control responded to Crow's ranch and found 250 animals on the property, including numerous undernourished animals.
There was no question that the 11 horses in the latest case had been neglected for as long as a year, but the state provided "virtually no evidence when she took possession" of them, Hull said in a decision handed down at the Josephine County Courthouse.
"I find the state's evidence woefully lacking," Hull said.
Prosecutor Jake Kamins had argued that Crow had an obligation to quickly get care for the horses, three of which she had obtained about a week earlier. It was unknown when the other horses came into her care. Crow did not testify.
Josephine County Animal Protection officers came across Crow handling the horses in March 2015. They all had hoof, tooth and parasite problems, but Hull wondered how long a reasonable person would take to get care for an animal coming into their possession.
"Is it an hour, is it a day?" he asked. "None of these issues was so critical it was an emergency."
Kamins said Crow should have acted quickly.
"People do have an affirmative obligation to know what to do," he said after the verdict was announced. "For any reasonable owner, it would be a dereliction of their duty to not get something started."
Defense attorney Joe Maier said during Crow's two-day trial that authorities were "out to get" Crow.
"There's a real danger of people being persecuted for who they are," he said after Thursday's verdict.
Reach reporter Shaun Hall at 541-474-3722 or firstname.lastname@example.org