Posted: Dec 4, 2012 8:20 PM by MTN News
BILLINGS - Just three hours after receiving the case, a Billings jury has found horse breederr James Leachman guilty on five counts of animal abuse.
Sentencing for Leachman is set for 3 p.m. on Dec. 12.
The jury was sequestered shortly after 4:30 p.m.
Before the trial concluded, proceedings convened at 9 a.m. when James Leachman's testimony continued with cross examination from the prosecution.
The line of questioning extended to Leachman mostly surrounded his use of leg bands on his horses.
Questions over the role the leg bands played in injuring the horses set the tone for the rest of the day as, at the end of Leachman's testimony, both the prosecution and defense moved into rebuttal cases for the remainder of the morning.
During that time the prosecution recalled several witnesses from earlier in the trial who were eye witnesses of the conditions on the ranch when the injured horses were discovered.
Other key considerations were breached during the rebuttal cases as well, such as Leachman's financial problems and the quality of character displayed by Leachman and other witnesses while events were playing out with the horses in 2010 and 2011, but the conversation inevitably always came back to pictures, videos and testimonies given about the leg bands.
Following a recess for lunch, the trial restarted shortly after at 2 p.m. with instructions for how the jury would proceed with coming to a decision once the case was handed over for deliberation.
The trial then concluded with closing arguments which, once again, mostly focused on the leg bands and if using the bands made Leachman criminally negligent.
"The defendant's failure to care for these horses created significant injuries to these horses," said Yellowstone Deputy County Attorney and prosecuting attorney Ingrid Rosenquist. "Injuries which caused them (the horses) to suffer. Injuries that, without care, created and directly caused the death of four of these five horses."
"In 2006 and 2007 when he decided to start using that banding practice-- had it been reasonable for him to see that those bands would not become the center of his criminal case, do you really think he would have started using them," asked Yellowstone County Public Defender and defense attorney Roberta Drew.
He could face the maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.