Kentucky Teens Sentenced in Horse Shooting Incident

Two Pike County, Ky., teenagers are behind bars for charges connected with a 2007 shooting spree that left three horses dead and another eight injured. The pair appeared in court in Pike County on Jan. 31 after their attorney and attorneys for the Commonwealth struck a plea deal in the case that was slated to go to jury trial on Feb. 4. (For more on this case see Mistrial Motion Delays Horse Killing Case Verdict). 

According to spokesperson Leslie Anderson, Pike County Circuit Judge Eddy Coleman sentenced Jacob Ratliff, 18, and Michael Damron, 17, each to five years in prison after the pair pleaded guilty to multiple misdemeanor animal cruelty and criminal mischief charges. Both teens were tried as adults in the case.

Their prison sentences will be probated to six months' jail time, Anderson said, and both young men will remain under supervised probation for five years after their release from prison.

Last January, Ratliff and Damron were charged with running down and repeatedly firing rifle and pistol shots into a herd of horses grazing at a strip mine near the Breaks Interstate Park. The horses, owned by the Breaks Stables and used for trail rides at the park, had been grazing at the strip mine since the end of the trail riding season the previous October.

In addition to their incarceration, Ratliff and Damron were each ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution to Patricia Hayes, Christina Hayes, and Crystal Hayes, the horses' owners.

According to Anderson, Ratliff and Damron must make those restitution payments no later than 24 hours prior to their final sentencing, which is slated for March 14.

Meanwhile, according to published reports, Ratliff and Damron have filed suit against WYMT-TV, a Hazard, Ky., television station, claiming that a news reporter released their names before they were charged as adults.

Both Ratliff and Damron were minors at the time of their arrest, but they were tried as adults following a February 2007 court ruling.

No one from WYMT-TV or from Gray Television Group Inc., the station's Atlanta, Ga.-based parent company, was available for comment on the reported suit.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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