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Trial set for one suspect in animal abuse case

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Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 3:38 pm | Updated: 10:36 am, Wed May 8, 2013.

A jury trial has been set for one of four people charged for abusing horses in Hollister last year.

Chris Miles, 20, of Branson, will appear in court in front of Judge Mark Orr July 15 for a jury trial concerning burglary and animal abuse, according to Missouri court records.

Miles and three others were charged in October of last year for a week-long incident that began in late July, according to a Taney County Sheriff’s Department probable cause statement.

Antwan Brown, 19, of Branson, Amber Askins, 19, of Branson, and Chadd Smith, 29, of Hollister, are also facing charges for involvement in the incident, according to Missouri court records. All four individuals are facing first-degree burglary, a class B felony, and animal abuse, a class D felony.

According to the probable cause statement, a horse owner reported abuse to her horses by multiple people while she was out of town.

Two horses suffered large cuts to their entire bodies, according to police documents, though the horse owner, Dee Dee Ulrich, said five horses were harmed in the incident.

“My guard is up and my guard will be up forever knowing that people can concoct such a cruel and inhumane crime against such beautiful, precious, and loving animals,” Ulrich said.

Ulrich staked out one night in her pasture and called police and reported trespassers on the property near the horse barn. When police arrived, the individuals fled on foot. Motion cameras previously installed by police showed Askins and Miles among the individuals whom fled from police, according to the report.

Smith walked up to the barn while police were still on site speaking with the horse owner, police documents state. Smith said he and the others were hired to work at the barn with the horses overnight, a claim refuted by the horse owner. Smith contacted Askins, Miles and another individual whose identity is undisclosed and the three returned to the barn to speak with police.

During interviews with police, the individuals said they had been hired by a man who was not working at the barn that night, police documents state. The suspects said the lacerations on the horses came from an animal attack. During their nights at the barn, the suspects allegedly rode the horses. According to the probable cause statement, police haven’t been able to contact the individual whom allegedly hired the four suspects.

Apart from the physical harm to the horses, Ulrich is concerned with the psychological damage done to the horse and what was taken away from her family sport.

Ulrich said the physical damage has already healed, though the scars will always be there, but the psychological damage the horses suffered is still something she has to work on with the horses.

“Not at all am I saying it’s OK,” Ulrich said. “But the cuts weren't no more than if the horse went through a barbed wire fence — that’s treatable. My problem is what they suffered emotionally. I can’t obviously sit down with a horse like you can with a child and explain what happened.”

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