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Sunday, Jan 1, 2012County: Delta
Disposition: Dismissed (Conditional)
Persons of Interest:
» Charles Keune
» Patricia Keune
Case Updates: 2 update(s) available
A Delta County couple faces arraignment next month on nearly a dozen animal-cruelty charges after pleading guilty Wednesday to a single cruelty count involving the death of one of the couple's horses.
Charles, 49, and Patricia Keune, 54, offered their guilty pleas under an agreement with prosecutors under which the charges involving the dead horse will be dropped if they have no further run-ins with the law for two years.
The agreement is to be made final April 4, the day on which County Judge Sandra K. Miller is to decide whether the couple should have to take anger-management classes as a condition of the plea agreement. That also is to be the day of their first appearance on the new charges.
Delta County Undersheriff Mark Taylor said he served the Keunes with summonses on the new charges before they appeared Wednesday in front of Miller.
Animal cruelty is a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a possible two-year jail sentence.
In accepting the deferred judgment, the Keunes also agreed to forfeit five horses and six cattle taken Tuesday from their residence on Redlands Mesa at 13244 Road 2900 in Delta County.
The Keunes had little choice other than to agree to forfeit the animals, Patricia Keune said after the hearing, because they would have had to pay $1,400 within 10 days and still have been under court order to own no livestock.
"I'm in a Catch-22," Patricia Keune said.
The couple couldn't come up with that kind of money in any case, Patricia Keune said, as she referred to the animals as "my babies."
Patricia Keune, who said she has raised animals since her childhood, said she had sought donations of hay for her animals from neighbors, but to no avail.
Charles Keune, who described himself as a farmer now working in coal mines, told the judge he left a horse near death without food or water on the advice of a renderer, whom he had called to pick up the animal as it lay.
The renderer, April Wilson, said in an interview she was called by Patricia Keune on March 12 to collect a dead animal. Wilson met with Charles Keune on his property, she said, but she didn't collect a carcass.
The horse, an emaciated thoroughbred chestnut gelding that later weighed in at 820 pounds, or 400 pounds less than a healthy animal, "rose up on his chest" as she approached, Wilson said.
"I didn't pick him up because he wasn't dead," Wilson said.
The horse, in fact, ate some hay from her hand and otherwise appeared alert, if malnourished.
"He was eating, he was hungry," Wilson said.
If she had the proper equipment, she would have taken the horse with her, Wilson said.
Instead, Wilson told Keune to feed and water the horse. Keune replied that he would give the horse until the next day to recover, and after being advised to provide water, walked back into his house, Wilson said.
Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee said his deputies also advised the Keunes how to care for their livestock when they were called regarding the same horse.
"It was just obvious to us recommendations weren't followed," McKee said.
Patricia Keune called her the next day and asked her to collect the horse, which Wilson refused to do when Keune told her the horse wasn't dead, Wilson said.
Patricia Keune called back a few hours later and told her the horse was dead, Wilson said. On that trip, she did pick up a carcass, which she delivered to the landfill, Wilson said.
Charles Keune told the judge the circumstances around the death of the horse and the condition of his other livestock "were not quite as bad as it appears."
"When you're 20 years old and you're a horse, sometimes it's your time," Charles Keune said.
The Keunes had multiple opportunities to provide their livestock with hay, Brenda Miller and Kris Dahlstrom said. Miller and Dahlstrom, both wildlife-rehabilitation specialists, have monitored the condition of the Keune livestock and said many people had donated hay for the animals.
The Keunes set the bales of hay on the opposite aside of the livestock fence, just beyond the animals' reach, Brenda Miller said.
The horses, meanwhile, were to be released to Spirit Wind Horse Rescue in Crawford, according to an email from Vendla Stockdale, president of the organization.
Patricia Keune said after the hearing that she was eager to leave Colorado.
Keune stood during much of her hearing and said she was recovering from a knee replacement two weeks ago. The Keunes said they were unaware of the new charges.
"I'm going to get well," Patricia Keune said, "and go back to Oklahoma."
|Warrants were issued Wednesday for a Hotchkiss couple suspected of animal cruelty after they failed to appear on summonses.|
But Patricia Keune says she and her husband, Charles, thought the summonses that allege 11 counts of cruelty had been dismissed after they pleaded guilty to one count of cruelty each, on earlier summonses issued over the feeding of their horses and cattle.
They thought the whole case had been settled because they surrendered their livestock, Patricia Keune said Wednesday, when informed of the warrants.
She said she would be contacting the District Attorney's Office in Delta in hopes of straightening out the matter. It was unclear Wednesday night whether the warrants were still active.
The Keunes had entered pleas to the single cruelty count on March 21 in Delta County Court. They were served with summonses alleging 11 more counts of cruelty the same day, the Delta clerk of court said.
|Source: montrosepress.com - Apr 5, 2012|
Update posted on Apr 5, 2012 - 2:28PM
|Just minutes before Charles and Patricia Keune appeared in Delta County Court on a single charge of cruelty to animals, the Delta County Sheriff's Office issued a second summons alleging 11 counts of cruelty on the horses and cows seized from the property a day earlier.|
The initial charge was filed after the death of a horse.
During a hearing before Judge Sandra Miller on March 21, deputy district attorney Anna Cooling said the horse laid in the field overnight without any food or water, as it suffered a "lengthy, painful movement toward death." The horse was finally shot to death by Charles Keune.
The Keunes did not argue with the factual basis of the charge, as outlined by Cooling, and pleaded guilty with the understanding they would receive a deferred sentence.
Sentencing is set for April 16, after the Keunes have taken the anger management courses mandated by state statute. In addition, the guilty plea prohibits the Keunes from owning or possessing any livestock for two years.
As they considered their options in court, it was clear Charles and Pat felt they were being backed into a corner. The horses and cows seized from the property were impounded, but the Keunes were still responsible for their care. Even if they could post bond of $1,420, they could not bring the animals home because of the two-year restriction. Cooling said she was willing to forego the bond if the Keunes would forfeit their animals. They reluctantly agreed.
Patricia Keune said the situation was "not quite as bad as it appeared."
"We did everything they said," she told the judge, referring to the recommendations from the state veterinarian and the sheriff's office. "When you're a horse and you're 20 years old, sometimes it's your time."
Charles Keune added that whoever said they let the horse suffer is a liar. He said they tried to give hay and water to the horse, but he would not get up.
After the hearing, Patricia Keune said people should quit sticking their noses in other people's business. Those horses were her "babies," she said, and although they had trouble locating hay, the animals were not in danger. They believe the sheriff's office intended to confiscate their animals from the get-go.
"That's the last thing we wanted to do," said Delta County Undersheriff Mark Taylor. "We tried working with the Keunes to get the animals back to a healthy status. But everything we suggested, that the state veterinarian suggested, they ignored."
The breaking point came the morning of March 20, when they stopped by the Keune property on Redlands Mesa to check on the animals. Although two large round bales of hay had been left on the ranch, the Keunes had distributed just one small bale to all 11 animals since the previous afternoon.
"That solidified our decision," Taylor said. "It was time to do something."
|Source: deltacountyindependent.com - Mar 28, 2012|
Update posted on Mar 29, 2012 - 1:46PM
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