Case Snapshot
Case ID: 8875
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (non pit-bull), horse
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Friday, Jun 2, 2006

County: Williams

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 1 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Kimberly Ann Lester

Case Updates: 8 update(s) available

Northwest District Judge David W. Nelson denied a motion by Kim Lester this morning to quash a notice requiring her to remove 84 horses and 50 dogs from her property in rural Grenora in an animal abuse maltreatment case against her.

She is still required to notify authorities and court officials where all of the animals are being taken, and detail where other property she owns is located so authorities may continue to search and monitor other reports of alleged animal abuse and neglect.

Nelson had taken a day to review the state's rights under the law to have the animals removed. Lester and her attorney Shane Peterson filed the motion to quash a previous court order requiring her to have the animals removed June 6th in the morning.

Williams County Sheriff's Office arrested Lester June 2, 2006 after a search warrant had been executed on her property. There they reported finding multiple animals without food or water, eight horse carcasses and three dead dogs, 45 horses and livestock penned in 50X60-foot areas, dogs and chickens crowded into small buildings without food or water, and animals showing signs of sores and disease.

Peterson told Nelson he saw nothing in the law that required his client, Lester, to simply give the animals away. He noted multiple offers had been coming in to take the animals. "The state did not follow proper procedure," Peterson said.

He told Nelson that all of the dogs had been given away.

Williams County State's Attorney Nicole Foster argued this point, stating that about 24 dogs have been accounted for, but the status of the rest are unknown. "All 50 dogs are gone from the property. We are very concerned what happened to them ... We want to know where they went."

Peterson said hay bails have been purchased for the horses on the property. He added that a number of people have agreed to come in to provide care.

Foster countered that it was a huge chore for the sheriff's office when they first came on the property. "How do you get all of those animals removed on a moment's notice?" she asked.

She added that by Saturday, authorities and the court had little cooperation from the defendant. Foster said Lester has not told authorities where her other property was to keep in compliance with Friday's court order from Northwest District Judge Gerald Rustad.

Peterson said his client had no problem giving the location of other property, and said Lester's animals were being properly tended.

"To me there is nothing to quash," ruled Nelson. "From the start, the authorities had the right to take the animals into custody."

Nelson said if removed from the property, Lester will be responsible for the financial costs of their care. "The defendant will give a complete account of all animals," Nelson said.

He said authorities were allowed to take the animals and relocate them if statutes were followed.

Williams County Sheriff Scott Busching said he is awaiting an outcome from a meeting between the two attorneys before deciding his next step. He said at this point the animals are being cared for in their place and are being monitored.


Case Updates

A Williston woman accused of animal neglect has been given another year of probation. Kim Lester also is barred from having animals on any property she owns no matter who lives there.

Judge Gerald Rustad issued those orders after a probation revocation hearing Friday.

Lester, of Williston, was given suspended sentences last May on misdemeanor animal mistreatment charges, and was barred from having animals for two years. Authorities said she neglected dozens of horses, dogs and other animals on her farm near Grenora.

She later was charged with violating the terms of her probation by having dogs on her farm.

Lester's boyfriend, James Skalicky, testified that he rented the Grenora property from her and that he owned the dogs that were found there.

Rustad said he would order the probation rules clarified, to bar animals from any property owned by Lester.

The judge says he has no faith that Lester will stay away from animals, so he wants to make it tougher for her.
Source: KXMC - Jan 7, 2007
Update posted on Jan 8, 2008 - 12:17AM 
A hearing on whether to revoke probation for a Grenora woman accused of neglecting animals has been postponed.

Forty-two-year-old Kim Lester was to appear on Tuesday, but her hearing now has been put off until January 4, at the request of attorneys.

Lester was accused last year of neglecting dozens of horses, dogs, birds and other animals on her farm. In May she was given suspended sentences on misdemeanor animal mistreatment charges and barred from having animals for two years.

She was arrested in mid-October for allegedly violating the terms of her probation by having dogs on her farm.
Source: KXMB - Oct 31, 2007
Update posted on Oct 31, 2007 - 5:27PM 
Last April, Kim Lester, 42, of Grenora was convicted on two counts of animal neglect.

The severity of her crime has made headlines over the past year, and earlier this month she was arrested again.

This time for violating her parole.

Now her case has caught the attention of the Humane Society of the United States.

Dale Bartlett, Deputy Manager for Animal Cruelty Cases at the Humane Society, says they want to make sure she doesn`t harm animals again.

When more than 150 animals were found dead or starving on her rural Grenora farm, Kim Lester reached a plea agreement with State`s Attorney, Nicole Foster.

She didn`t face any jail time, but she was forbidden to own any animals.

Earlier this month she violated that - behavior the Humane Society says is indicative of animal hoarding.

"These people take on animals and then fail to take care of them properly, and it`s a pathological condition," Bartlett says.

In a letter to Foster, Barlett explains the research done on animal hoarders. The hope is that she will use the information to mandate psychological counseling and the jail time Lester avoided through her plea agreement.

Barlett says he sent Foster information to use in court but hasn`t heard back from her.

He also says that`s not uncommon.

Many times prosecutors in cases like these will use the information provided by the humane society but use their help directly.

Today Foster said she won`t be making any comments on this case until it`s completed.
Source: KFYR - Oct 26, 2007
Update posted on Oct 28, 2007 - 1:03AM 
A hearing on a petition to revoke a suspended sentence against Kim Lester, 42, on her two convictions of animal neglect is slated for 10 a.m. Tuesday before Northwest District Judge Gerald Rustad.

Authorities found a number of dogs on her rural Grenora farmstead this month after she was ordered not to possess animals under the terms of her sentence.

Lester received two suspended one-year sentences this spring for maltreatment/abandonment of animals, according to court papers. Both are Class A misdemeanors. She was ordered to not to own any animals, pay a $200 administrative fee, $100 defense/facility fee and $25 victim service fee.

Lester had been suspected of multiple instances of mistreating and neglecting animals after sheriff deputies discovered dead animals/starving animals at her Grenora property. She was arrested initially in June of 2006. Many of the 84 horses, 50 dogs and 30 birds on her farmstead were confined to very small spaces. Multiple animals were found in their own waste, and were not given food or water for several days. Some of the horses were even consuming their own feces, according to reports.

In a 1990 bench trial, Lester was reportedly cleared of similar abuse charges, according to the Associated Press.

In a related note, the Humane Society of the United States has contacted Williams County State's Attorney Nicole Foster to call for Lester to have psychological counseling and to serve jail time for her most recent violations of animal care.

Members of the MonDak Humane Society have confirmed the group making the request is a legitimate organization, but are not commenting about the Lester case.

Foster confirmed Tuesday that she received the letter from the Humane Society of the United States, said she cannot comment on what actions will be taken on the case until the hearing.
Source: Williston Herald - Oct 24, 2007
Update posted on Oct 24, 2007 - 11:54PM 
A woman accused of neglecting dozens of horses, dogs, birds and other animals on her rural Grenora farm has requested a bench trial.

That means a judge, rather than a jury, will decide the fate of Kim Lester, 42. She has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor maltreatment of animals and is set to appear before Northwest District Judge Gerald Rustad on Monday morning.

If convicted, Lester could face up to two years in prison and $2,000 in fines.

Lester was released on $2,000 bond after her June 2, 2006, arrest. The animals were ordered removed from her property.

In 1990, Lester was found innocent of mistreatment of animals in a bench trial.
Source: In-Forum - April 20, 2007
Update posted on Apr 20, 2007 - 8:57PM 
The trial for a Williams County woman accused of neglecting animals on her rural Grenora farm has again been postponed.

Kim Lester was scheduled to appear in Williams County Court on April 2 for a jury trial. The matter is now scheduled to be heard on April 23 at 9:30 a.m.
Source: Williams County Court
Update posted on Apr 3, 2007 - 1:49PM 
A Dec. 7 jury trial has been postponed for a Williams County woman accused of neglecting animals on her rural Grenora farm.

Kim Lester, 41, has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor maltreatment of animals. Her trial has been rescheduled for April 2.

Lester was released on $2,000 bond after her June 2 arrest. The horses, dogs and poultry were ordered removed from her property.

In 1990, Lester was found innocent of mistreatment of animals in a bench trial.
Source: In-Forum - Nov 26, 2006
Update posted on Nov 27, 2006 - 1:57AM 
A northwestern North Dakota woman accused of mistreating animals has found homes for some of the 84 horses and all the 50 dogs at her farm, her attorney says.

Kim Lester, 41, was arrested and charged last Friday with two counts of maltreatment of animals at her farm, about six miles southwest of Grenora. She denies the charges, said her attorney, Shane Peterson.

Authorities said horses, dogs and poultry were confined to small spaces and had not received food or water for days. They said they found eight dead horses and three dead dogs in a pasture on the property.

Williams County State's Attorney Nicole Foster said some of the horses were so hungry they were eating their own feces.

"The conditions that these animals were living in was deplorable," Foster said.

"My client disagrees they were malnourished," Peterson said of the animals. He said she was hiring a veterinarian to back her claim.

Lester was released on a $2,000 bond, and was ordered to remove all animals from her property.

"All of the dogs are gone," Peterson said Wednesday. "All of the horses except for 21 are still on the property."

The remaining horses are being cared for by Lester and others, he said.

Lester had been given five days to find new homes for the animals. Peterson challenged Northwest District Judge Gerald Rustad's order, saying Lester had not been convicted of the charges.

"I felt it was improper to give her five days to dispose of the animals since she had not been allowed a hearing or the opportunity to defend herself," Peterson said.

Northwest District Judge David Nelson denied the challenge on Wednesday, though Lester still has some of the animals.

"My client has told me that there has been somebody on the place, feeding and watering the animals daily," Peterson said.

The dogs were given to "various individuals" and animal shelters in Minot and Mandan, Peterson said.

Sue Buchholz, the director of the Central Dakota Humane Society in Mandan, said Lester called her and asked her to take some of the dogs on Friday, the day Lester was arrested.

"We borrowed a four-horse trailer, filled it with kennels, and headed up the road," Buchholz said. "We were glad to."

Buchholz said her shelter got the final nine dogs at the farm on Monday.

"They were in poor condition. Very thin - not emaciated - but undernourished, full of fleas, anemic and terribly dirty," she said. "Each one had to have four baths because they were so filthy."

Some had wounds on their necks from being tied up to stakes in waist-high weeds. Some had their ears chewed raw by flies, she said.

Buchholz said she offered to take or buy chickens, geese and horses on the farm, but Lester refused.

"I had no idea what we'd have done with them, but that would have been a bridge we'd have had to cross," Buchholz said.

Buchholz said Lester ran a "puppy mill," the worst and largest-scale she's seen in North Dakota. She said some of the dogs her shelter rescued looked to be a year old, but a veterinarian said the dogs actually were twice that age and probably had several litters of puppies.

Peterson, the woman's attorney, said Lester raised and sold horses, and ran a "quasi-breeding operation" for dogs. He said the horses were underweight from distemper.

"Distemper went through the herd last fall and caused the horses to lose a fair amount of weight," he said.

A rancher has donated hay and Lester has purchased more feed for the animals, Peterson said. She is slated to appear in court June 20 to enter formal pleas on the charges, which are misdemeanors.

Foster said the Williams County sheriff's department would be checking the animals daily.

Meanwhile, she said, the county has been fielding a flood of calls.

"There has been a nationwide outpouring of people willing to take these animals," she said.
Source: Grand Forks Herald - June 7, 2006
Update posted on Jun 16, 2006 - 8:55PM 

References


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