A local businessman has been indicted on animal neglect charges after lawmen reported finding malnourished horses on at his ranch for the second time in two years.
The rancher, Sidney Stanton, was indicted for the raid on his ranch conducted July 1 by local authorities and animal rights advocates.
His indictment comes after lawmen raided his Sparta Highway ranch in July, seizing 21 horses they felt were malnourished. They chose to file charges against him for seven of the horses. Officers said they watched from the nearby highway and did not see feed being put out regularly for the horses.
The defense for Stanton suggests there could have been food in places not visible from the road.
While doing most surveillance from the road, an investigator admitted going onto the Stanton property the day before the raid, without a warrant, along with a veterinarian to check out the condition of the horses.
With his indictment, Stanton now faces two separate animal cruelty cases. The first came two years ago when officers raided his Bluff Springs ranch and seized several horses. Stanton has filed for an appeal after prosecutors refused to grant him a pre-trial diversion which would have, in essence, erased all charges against him.
Supporters of the rancher say Stanton has taken horses, old, sick and unwanted, in an attempt to nurse them back to health or at least allow them to live out their older years. One former employee said Stanton would spend $1,000 a week of his own money to feed horses.
Arraignment before a special judge, who is already hearing his first round of charges, will be scheduled for a later date. It is expected both his new case and his old case will then be set for trial dates.