Trial Date Set for Colorado Rescue Abuse Case

A Colorado woman accused of starving more than 20 horses at a rescue facility pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges during an appearance in Larimer County District Court yesterday.

According to Linda Jensen, public information officer for the Larimer County, Colo., district attorney's office, rescue operator Alesha Matchett pleaded not guilty to four counts of Class 1 misdemeanor animal cruelty. The first count involved the alleged starvation of 22 horses. The remaining charges involve cruelty to goats, a llama, one pig, and one sheep. As a result of Matchett's plea, the case will go to trial.

"The case is slated to go to jury trial on Aug. 18, and is scheduled for four days," said Jensen.

Buckskin horse when removed form Matchett's farm
Buckskin horse 4 months after removal from Matchett's farm

A buckskin horse shown at the time it was removed from Matchett's farm (top) and after four months in the Colorado Horse Rescue program.

Each charge carries penalties of between six and 18 months in prison and fines of between $500 and $5,000, Jensen said.

Matchett said she pleaded not guilty after rejecting the Larimer District Attorney’s Office's offer to dismiss three of the four animal cruelty charges against her, and reduce one charge to neglect if she would agree to four years probation, monthly site inspections, and a limit of 10 animals on her property.

"I'm not going to plead guilty to something I’ve never done or will ever do," Matchett said.

Jensen declined to discuss the plea offer, citing standard policy.

The charges stem from the Dec. 29 removal of 27 animals, including the emaciated horses, from the Animal Angels Horse Rescue operated by Matchett near Fort Collins, Colo. (For more on the seizure see Charges against Colorado Horse Rescue Operator Pending.)

Authorities became involved in the animal neglect case after Matchett complained to authorities that three horses and a quantity of hay been stolen from her. The theft charges were proven to be unfounded, but they led to the animal welfare investigation. The horses were placed with Colorado Horse Rescue. They have since been placed in qualified adoptive homes.

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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