A teenager has been jailed for seven years in relation to a Missouri abuse case in which barrel-racing horses were found with lacerations.
Amber Askins, 19, of Branson, admitted multiple felonies when she appeared on Thursday in the Circuit Court of Taney Count, including burglary in the first degree relating to the abuse of several horses on a farm in Hollister in 2012.
Circuit Court Judge Mark Orr sentenced her to seven years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for burglary in the first degree, as well as one year in county jail for the class A misdemeanor of conspiracy to commit animal abuse.
The offending goes back to July 2012, when a man who was keeping watch on his daughter’s horses while she was away noticed there were cuts on some of the animals, which also showed signs of having been saddled improperly.
The farm stepped up security, but evidence that the horses had been visited overnight more than once prompted Detective Dan Luttrell, of the Taney County Sheriff’s Office, set up a game camera to catch the suspects.
The owner of the horses also spent night hours in her barn, in an attempt to catch the suspects.
On August 4, 2012, Taney County deputies received a call for help to the farm.
The owner explained that she had seen Askins and other individuals entering the barn. One of the men was seen with a large knife.
Video evidence from the camera footage confirmed the owner’s description of events.
Chris Miles previously pleaded guilty for his role in the burglary and animal abuse conspiracy. Other defendants are awaiting trial relating to this crime.
The maximum sentence for the class B felony of burglary in the first degree is 15 years in prison.
In addition to the charges relating to the abuse of the horses, Askins pleaded guilty to the class D felony of failure to appear and the class D felony of damage to jail property. For each of those charges, Askins received the maximum prison sentence of four years.
In all, five people have been charged in connection with the incident. Police documents show that two horses suffered large cuts to their bodies.
The suspects, when initially confronted, claimed the lacerations came from an animal attack. They claimed they had been hired by an unidentified individual to work with the horses.