Case Snapshot
Case ID: 13506
Classification: Beating
Animal: horse
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Defense(s): Lawrence Pickett
Judge(s): Doug Driggers, Stephen Bridgforth

For more information about the Interactive Animal Cruelty Maps, see the map notes.

Monday, Feb 13, 2006

County: Dona Ana

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Acquitted

Person of Interest: Greg Collier

Case Updates: 4 update(s) available

After several hours of deliberations Thursday [March 27, 2008], a Doa Ana County jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of a trainer accused of beating to death a young horse.

District Judge Doug Driggers declared a mistrial in the case of Greg Collier, 38, who was facing a charge of extreme animal cruelty, a fourth-degree felony.

Collier was accused of using excessive and violent means to train a thoroughbred yearling on Feb. 13, 2006, in Chaparral.

Prosecutors said the horse was beaten for about three hours and died of extensive internal injuries the following day. Collier was not the owner of the horse.

The state will not dismiss the case, opening the door to a possible retrial. A conviction carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison.

Case Updates

Horse trainer Greg Collier, charged with beating a colt to death, has spent the last five years fighting for his freedom and reputation.

Now he hopes the New Mexico Supreme Court will end his ordeal by barring the state from trying him for a third time.

The five-member court will hear arguments Nov. 15 on whether prosecutors squandered their opportunities to convict Collier of cruelty to animals.

Collier, 41, was charged with using a whip handle to kill a thoroughbred yearling named Cowboy on Feb. 13, 2006.

By the state's account, Collier was "humiliated" over his lack of progress in developing Cowboy as a racehorse. Collier attacked the colt, striking him repeatedly, prosecutors said.

The alleged crime occurred in Dona Ana County, when Gov. Susana Martinez was the district attorney.

Six months after Cowboy's death, Martinez's staff obtained an indictment against Collier for extreme cruelty to animals, a fourth-degree felony. A conviction could have sent Collier to prison.

He stood trial in March 2008 in Las Cruces, but jurors could not agree on a verdict. The judge declared a mistrial.

At a retrial in January 2009, the state charged Collier with the same felony. But prosecutors asked that the jury also be allowed to consider whether Collier was guilty of a lesser cruelty charge, one that was a misdemeanor.

That time, jurors voted 11-1 to convict Collier of the misdemeanor. With a lone holdout juror blocking a unanimous verdict, the judge declared another mistrial.

But one clear result was established in that trial.

Because the jury voted only on the misdemeanor charge, it implicitly acquitted Collier of the felony. The demise of the felony case was one of the few points that the prosecution and defense agreed on.

Doña Ana prosecutors still wanted to pursue the misdemeanor charge against Collier.

They attempted to try him for a third time in the summer of 2009, but a judge in Las Cruces stopped them.

Collier's lawyer argued that he could not be tried again because the two-year statute of limitations for a misdemeanor had lapsed.

In fact, Collier had never been indicted on the misdemeanor. That charge was tacked on as a lesser included offense at the end of his second trial.

Doña Ana County District Judge Fernando R. Macias said a third trial would violate Collier's rights, agreeing with the defense that the statute of limitations had expired.

Prosecutors appealed and lost again, though for a different reason than Macias gave.

The state Court of Appeals ruled that a third trial would subject Collier to double jeopardy " the legal term for being tried twice for the same crime.

State Attorney General Gary King's staff is appealing yet again, this time to New Mexico's highest court.

In its brief to the Supreme Court, the state said it has the right to try Collier on the misdemeanor count. King's staff said the hung jury on that charge meant there was no outcome, and therefore Collier would not be subjected to double jeopardy.

Collier, of Lubbock, Texas, is being represented by lawyers from New Mexico.

They say the long, tangled case should be dismissed. The defense is offering three reasons - double jeopardy, expiration of the statute of limitations and denial of Collier's right to a speedy trial.

The state devised the belated strategy of trying Collier for a misdemeanor because "it realized there were serious problems with its ability to prove the felony charge," the defense lawyers wrote in their brief.

Collier has faced heavy criticism, in southern New Mexico and on the Internet, since the state charged him.

The colt's owner, Kevin Williams of El Paso, testified during the second trial that he saw Collier strike the horse with the whip handle. But the juries' struggles showed that the case was not so clear-cut as an angry trainer lashing out at an animal.

Still, anonymous posters in chat rooms and on message boards took up for the prosecution. Many of them said true justice would have meant Collier being struck with a whip handle.

Cowboy, according to the state, came from a bloodline that included the famous racehorse Alydar. Alydar finished second in all three Triple Crown races of 1978, losing to Affirmed each time.

Collier and Cowboy attained no such glory.

The state says the long-dead colt deserves justice. Collier's defense team counters that the case should die a death of its own.
Source: - Nov 5, 2011
Update posted on Nov 5, 2011 - 5:09PM 
With a smile, horse trainer Greg Collier placed his cowboy hat back on his head and prepared to exit the courtroom Saturday, freed of an extreme animal cruelty charge in the death of a 10-month-old colt.

Collier, 38, of Lubbock, Texas, was acquitted by jurors of the fourth-degree felony charge in a four-day trial before District Judge Stephen Bridgforth.

Jurors were given the option to consider a lesser misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty, but again were unable to reach a verdict. Bridgforth said 11 of the 12 jurors favored a guilty verdict on the lesser charge.

Although Collier appeared pleased as the verdict was read, he declined to comment on the outcome of the trial.

Defense attorney Lawrence Pickett said, however, that "after long years dealing with the case, justice has prevailed."

Nearly three years ago, Collier was accused of beating the thoroughbred colt to death in Chaparral.

Horse owner Kevin Williams of El Paso fought back tears Saturday after watching Collier and his family leave the courtroom.

"I just can't believe it," he said.

Earlier in the week, four eyewitnesses, including Williams, testified they watched Collier repeatedly strike the colt, named Cowboy, with the handle of a whip.

Because of the colt's bloodline, Williams said he hoped Cowboy would become a racehorse, and he hired Collier to train it to lift its hooves for trimming.

Williams discovered Cowboy, a descendent of Alydar, dead the morning of Feb. 14, 2006 - the day after Collier conducted a three-hour training session with the yearling.

Richard Wellborn, senior trial prosecutor, said that while the verdict was disappointing, he didn't anticipate the District Attorney's Office giving up on the case.

"I don't expect that we will stop," he said of pursuing a retrial for the lesser animal cruelty charge.

"It's a low charge," Wellborn said. "But the stakes are high here. People care."

Mary Collier, the defendant's stepmother, said while exiting the courtroom that if the state chooses to retry Collier on the misdemeanor, the family "has the funds to fight it." Collier's father is president of American State Bank in Lubbock.
Source: Las Cruces Sun-News - Jan 25, 2008
Update posted on Jan 25, 2009 - 12:45PM 
A Texas man accused of beating to death a 10-month-old colt took the stand in his own defense here Friday in District Court and denied the allegations.

Greg Collier, 38, of Lubbock, is charged with a fourth-degree felony count of extreme animal cruelty. His jury trial continues today before Judge Stephen Bridgforth.

This is his second trial on the charge. The first ended in a mistrial last year.

If convicted, Collier could face a maximum 18-month sentence.

Horse owner Kevin Williams, of El Paso, testified Thursday that Collier repeatedly beat his thoroughbred colt, named Cowboy, with the handle of a whip nearly three years ago in Chaparral. Williams hired Collier to train the yearling after witnessing a demonstration by the trainer at a cowboy symposium in Anthony, Texas.

Because of the colt's Kentucky Derby bloodline, Williams said he hoped Cowboy would become a racehorse.

He hired Collier to train the 700-pound colt to lift its hooves so that they could be trimmed. Williams testified he discovered Cowboy dead on the Chaparral property Feb. 14, 2006 - the day after Collier conducted a three-hour training session with the yearling.

Collier testified Friday that he sensed the colt, a descendent of Alydar, was dangerous soon after arriving at the Chaparral property where Williams kept Cowboy.

"I looked the horse in the eyes, and he began to kick violently," he testified. "He was obviously very disturbed by my presence."

Having tamed "thousands" of wild horses throughout his career, Collier said Cowboy was one of few horses he had ever seen act in this manner.

Collier admitted to using a whip with a plastic bag tied to the end of the cord as a visual stimulus while training Cowboy, but said he is "dead certain" he never hit the colt with the whip's handle or a rope.

In order to clean and trim Cowboy's hooves, Collier said he had to hobble the colt, or tie back one of its legs.

"I went over the risks and the dangers," he said of a conversation with Williams. "I told (Williams) the horse could react violently. I told him he could severely injure himself."

Collier said the colt's owner never objected to his training methods, and insisted that Cowboy's hooves needed to be trimmed.

After cleaning Cowboy's front hooves, the trainer said he advised Williams it was time to stop.

"Mr. Williams said it is important that the horse's feet develop properly and that it would be better to get all four feet done," he said.

While trimming the colt's back hooves, Collier said Cowboy had a "negative and violent reaction" and began kicking at the trainer.

Jurors listed to a much different account earlier Friday from Collier's ex-wife, Leanne Collier.

While watching her then-husband work with Cowboy in Chaparral, Leanne Collier said she witnessed the trainer "hit the horse hundreds of times very hard."

She said Collier used the "heavy, solid, rubber handle" of his whip to beat the horse on its eyes, forehead, shoulder and flank.

Collier testified Cowboy behaved "like a normal, energetic, 10-month-old animal," and did not show any signs of aggression.

After attempting two different training methods, Collier said she finally told her new husband, ""Honey, that's enough."

Collier said she didn't expect the trainer to heed her advice. "Greg just beats horses," she said.

The couple divorced after almost two years of marriage.

Greg Collier is the son of W.R. Collier, president of the Lubbock-based American State Bank.
Source: Las Cruces Sun-News - Jan 24, 2008
Update posted on Jan 24, 2009 - 9:08PM 
A horse trainer accused of beating a colt to death almost three years ago will once again stand trial in District Court after a mistrial was declared last year.

Greg Collier, 38, faces a charge of extreme animal cruelty, a fourth-degree felony for allegedly using excessive and violent means to train a thoroughbred yearling on Feb. 13, 2006, in Chaparral.

After being beaten for about three hours, prosecutors said the colt died of extensive internal injuries the following day.

He was not the owner of the 10-month-old colt.

In March 2008, Collier took the stand in his own defense during a trial before District Judge Doug Driggers. After more than four hours of deliberations, the jury was unable to reach a verdict. According to defense attorney Lawrence Pickett, the jury was split 9 to three in favor of acquittal.

Jury selection is currently under way.
Source: Las Cruces Sun-News - Jan 21, 2009
Update posted on Jan 21, 2009 - 10:35PM 


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