The saga of Darlene Wilson – and the fate of her abused horses – continued today in District Court as she appeared for the 90-day court review of her compliance with sentencing.
Ms. Wilson was convicted on three counts of 2nd Degree Animal Cruelty in April after a four-day jury trial. As part of her sentencing she was mandated by Justice Pat O’Malley to divest herself of all direct care of her eleven Arabian horses for a period of two years even though she was found guilty of only abusing three other horses, which have been removed from her care by Pierce County Animal Control.
In addition, she was also assessed financial penalties and court costs which totaled over four thousand dollars.
However, at her sentencing hearing Ms. Wilson surprised the courtroom by announcing she had sold her eleven horses, but that they were still stabled at her facilities in Roy and that she needed the income from the boarding fees in order to survive financially. Without the income from those fees, she told Judge O’Malley that she would be forced to live on a meager check from Social Security, her only other source of income.
As a result, O’Malley formulated a sentencing plan that would keep Wilson financially viable but also protect any horses on her property from living in squalid conditions.
Ms. Wilson was in court today to submit evidence that the transfer of ownership was legitimate, such as by providing a bill of sale, and that she had made arrangements with an independent party to care and feed the horses. Judge O’Malley had instructed Wilson to provide a contract with that party, specifying how that person would manage the equine operation, such as who would muck the stalls, purchase feed, and exercise the horses. Also regular vet care needed to be established, along with hoof and teeth treatments
“We’re back at square one if Ms. Wilson has any responsibility for these horses,” said Susan Mason, Pierce County Deputy Prosecutor, at the time of sentencing. “Ms. Wilson is physically incapable of taking proper care of these horses,” Mason added.
Darlene’s deteriorated physical health was clearly evident today, as she walked with the aid of a walker and her breathing was pronounced and labored.
However, Justice O’Malley was not in court today due to a temporary absence, and his place was taken by Justice Pro Tem Anna Woods.
In remarks addressed to the court, but especially directed toward Ms. Wilson, Judge Woods announced that she would not involve herself and recommended a postponement until Judge O’Malley returns at the end of July.
“This is a somewhat unusual and complicated case,” said Judge O’Malley, adding, “It has a significant impact for Ms. Wilson.”
Judge Woods said that Justice O’Malley had a much deeper understanding of the case, and she indicated that both the state and Ms. Wilson would be best served by holding the sentencing review upon his return.
In addition, Justice Woods said that an appeal of the original conviction has been filed in Superior Court, further complicating her legal proceedings.
One of Wilson’s defense attorneys, Amanda Fernandez, agreed with Judge Woods, saying, “This is a unique and difficult situation.”
Prosecuting attorney Susan Mason concurred, and the case has been rescheduled for Friday, July 29 at 2 pm.
Nevertheless, the current condition of the horses remains a serious issue, and one that has been difficult to ascertain.
One of the elements of sentencing was that Pierce County Animal Control (PCAC) was to monitor the situation at Wilson’s Carousel Stables in Roy. However, the lead Animal Control officer, Tim Anderson, has been placed on an extended medical leave. In his absence, obtaining information from Animal Control has been difficult, and despite several phone calls and emails to the department the Mountain News has not received any definitive statement from the PCAC concerning the care of horses at Wilson’s ranch.
However, a horse boarder at Wilson’s and also one of her supporters, was in the courtroom today and told the Mountain News that PCAC officer Jody Paige has been to Carousel Stables at least three times during the past ninety days. The supporter, who has asked for anonymity, also described the situation with Wilson’s eleven horses as being generally in compliance with Judge O’Malley’s ruling. She stated that the stalls are clean, the horses are grazing comfortably in a separate pasture, and that feed is regularly available.
But, she did indicate that regular veterinarian care and other medical treatments were absent, such as hoof and teeth work.
This individual also said that the new owner of Darlene’s horses was named Janette, but was unable to provide a last name or contact information. She also said that she has not seen the new owner with any frequency.
Also, a former boarder of horses at Darlene’s ranch independently contacted the Mountain News and claimed the environment at Darlene’s was basically unchanged from past unsanitary practices. She described a facility where feeding is iffy and stall maintenance is sporadic.
This individual, who has also requested anonymity, said that Darlene was performing some of the horse care herself, such as leading horses to pasture.
In addition, this individual said she was fearful of reprisals in the local horse world for what she was saying about conditions at Darlene’s. She also said that Darlene’s ranch is now called “Mashallah Stud.”
To see other articles from the Mountain News on the Darlene Wilson saga:
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