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horse starvation

Courts may order forfeiture of horses in animal cruelty case

On September 20, 2019, the 11th District Court of Appeals in Ohio held that a sentencing court may order an animal cruelty offender to forfeit horses as a condition of probation without going through the more cumbersome process of a full forfeiture proceeding.

The history of this case is complicated. Defendant Bianca Marcellino was convicted after a jury trial of two counts of animal cruelty for neglecting two horses, which were found to be emaciated and suffering from rain rot. Bianca Marcellino stated in a sworn affidavit that she was the sole owner of the horses. However, just before her sentencing hearing, Bianca’s mother, Karen Marcellino, filed a motion claiming to be the owner in an attempt to block forfeiture of the horses to the Geauga County Humane Society. The Court found that there was no evidence supporting Karen’s claim and ordered the horses to be forfeited.

The horses were rehabilitated by the Humane Society and placed in a new home. 

Karen filed an appeal. The Court of Appeals dismissed her case, finding that the case was moot, as the horses were already placed with a new home. State v. Marcellino, 11th Dist. Geauga Nos. 2019-G-0199, 2019-G-0200, 2019-Ohio-3329. Karen filed a motion to reconsider, claiming that there should have been a separate forfeiture proceeding beyond the sentencing in her daughter’s case.

The Court of Appeals denied the motion to reconsider. This appears to be the first appellate case in Ohio holding specifically that a sentencing court may order forfeiture of livestock as a condition of probation under R.C. 959.99(D) without further court proceedings.

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Jail Time and Fines for Farm Animal Cruelty Case

State v. Sofia Applegate, a case we prosecuted for the Geauga County Humane Society.

Applegate pled guilty today to one count of animal cruelty for neglecting to provided adequate food and water for three horses. One died on the scene. The others were not able to be rehabilitated despite the best efforts of the Humane Society, and were euthanized.

Applegate, who has no other criminal history, will serve three days in jail. Another 87 days were suspended and may be imposed if she fails to complete 5 years’ probation. During that time, she is prohibited from owning, keeping or living with any animals except for the two dogs and one cat she currently possesses, which must be kept in a humane, sanitary and lawful condition. (There was no evidence that the dogs and cat were not being cared for properly.) She is subject to random inspections during probation. She was fined $750, with $650 suspended, and must pay court costs.

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Marysville judge sends horse abuser to jail

State v. Lisa Gilliam, a case we prosecuted for the Animal Cruelty Taskforce, the county humane society serving Union County, Ohio.

Gilliam pled guilty to animal cruelty regarding two horses which were starved, and ultimately euthanized due to their poor condition. Four other counts were dropped to secure her plea. One of the success stories is Poco, pictured here.

Judge Grisby of the Marysville Municipal Court told the defendant that she is a “childish, careless, cruel person.” Gilliam was taken immediately to serve 20 days in jail, leaving another 160 days which may be imposed if Gilliam violates the terms of probation over the next five years. 

During this time, Gilliam is prohibited from keeping animals of any kind, must submit to random inspections, and must obtain a mental health assessment. She was fined $1200, $600 of which is suspended. She must also pay $1000 to the rescue organizations who helped care for the surviving horses.

Many thanks to the Animal Cruelty Taskforce (ACT) for their excellent work on this case.
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