Three people arrested in July on multiple horse cruelty charges were found guilty after a trial in Washington County General Sessions Court this week.
Arbutus D. Smith Hilliard, 47, 1 Mel Circle, Apt. 1, Johnson City was found guilty on two counts of animal cruelty; and David F. Hilliard Sr., 60, of the same address, and Kimberly A. Lebron, 25, 8 Trivette Concourse, Johnson City were found guilty on one count of animal cruelty. They were sentenced to 11 months 29 days of probation, must pay a $25 fine and court costs.
All three were granted judicial diversion after the guilty verdicts, which means after serving one year of probation successfully, the convictions can be erased from their records.
They are also prohibited from owning any horses for one year.
• Related article: Animal control officer finds emaciated horses in Jonesborough field
According to the arrest warrants, Washington County/Johnson City Animal Control Officer Wayne Thomas responded July 9 to a report of horses being neglected at a field on Gregg Town Road.
When Thomas arrived, he found one mare on the ground — emaciated, weak and unable to get up — and five other horses, three which were in poor condition, according to a local veterinarian.
The 20-25 year-old downed mare, owned by Lebron, was euthanized with the owner’s permission because the horse was so malnourished the vet recommended putting it down.
Court records indicate the horses were found “in a muddy field with very little water in a bathtub and no running water at the residence, mostly weedy with no picking grass and a small pile of old hay.”
Thomas requested a veterinarian examine the horses’ body condition. It was determined that two of the Hilliards’ horses and Lebron’s horse were in poor condition because of “improper care,” according to court documents.
Lebron’s horse was described as in “extremely poor condition,” with an “injury on its neck covered in flies.” That’s the animal that had to be put down.
With a body condition score of about 1 out of 9, Lebron gave permission to euthanize her horse, according to court records. Regarding body conditions, two of the Hilliards’ horses received a score of 2 out of 9 and the third was scored as 3 out of 9. The fourth horse’s body condition score was a 5 out of 9, which is considered “good body condition.”
The remaining horses were removed from the property and placed in a secure location for rehabilitation.