Michigan County to Reimburse Abuse Defendants for Seized Horses

A Jackson County, Mich., judge ruled on Friday that James Henderson Jr. was improperly forced to forfeit 69 horses during a controversial animal cruelty case, and that he should be reimbursed for their value.

According to Ronald J. Fabian, attorney for Matt Mercier, the horses' caretaker, Circuit Court Judge Thomas D. Wilson ruled that there were no reasonable grounds for Henderson to forfeit his horses. Wilson also ordered the county's District Court to determine the value of the horses--most of which were sold to cover the cost of their care--and pay Henderson that sum.

In March 2007, Henderson and Mercier were each charged with three counts of felony animal torture and one count of misdemeanor animal abuse after Jackson County Animal Control authorities seized a total of 69 horses owned by Henderson from a ranch operated by Mercier. The felony charges were dismissed last month by Circuit Court Judge Chad C. Schmucker.

Neither Mercier's attorney Michael Dungan nor prosecutor Jerrold Schrotenboer were available for comment.

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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