Once again the courtroom and the overflow room were filled with people who came to witness the proceedings today. Curtis and Craig Heydon were found guilty on all 22 counts of Animal Cruelty and abandonment. Judge Bailey sentenced them to 6 months jail time on each count, with all but 30 days on each count suspended, awarded custody of the four horses to the Bitterroot Humane Association, ordered the Heydons to reimburse the BRHA for all the costs incurred for caring for and obtaining treatment for the horses, and fined them $585.00 for each count. In his sentencing, the Judge stated that the Heydons had at no time taken any responsibility for the horses, they refused to pay for their care, and, in fact, blamed the horses for being the problem. He stated that their treatment of the animals had resulted in torture of the horses. And if that was the end of the story - it would be wonderful. But it's not. As soon as sentencing was complete the defense attorney dropped an appeal on the judges desk. Now the Heydons can return home, none of the penalties are imposed, the horses' legal status is still in limbo, and everything begins again in District Court. The good news is that justice was served this time ... and hopefully it will be the next as well. The community owes huge thanks to Prosecutor John Bell and many others who worked so hard to see justice prevail in this case, including the jurors who spent so much time listening to testimony and deliberating.
To view the Ravalli Republic's online article posted this afternoon regarding the verdict click here.
Here are a few of the comments we've received regarding the outcome of the trial.
"Congrats to all involved, and thanks to the County Attorneys Office for going the distance.
Change of Venue is not done just on request ... there will be a litmus test the defense will have to meet to prove they could not get a fair trial in Ravalli County. And just saying they are going to appeal and going through with it are two different things once they look at court costs, and all other factors.
Relish the victory, breath deeply and remain calm. Remember Camp Collie went ten months for a final victory... but it will be worth it in the end.
Great job to the individuals and community team that has spoken up for these horses!!!!!
Dave Pauli, Northern Rockies Regional Director AND National Project Director
The Humane Society of the United States
Northern Rockies Regional Animal Protection Team
490 N 31st Street; Suite 215,
Billings, MT 59101406-255-7161 (f) 7162"
"THANK GOODNESS AND THE LORD. WONDERFUL NEWS. THANKS FOR KEEPING US ALL INFORMED. IT REALLY IS SATISFYING TO KNOW THAT THE JUSTICE SYSTEM DOES WORK TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT AFTER ALL. I HOPE THE MESSAGE IS HEARD FAR AND WIDE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE ABUSE ANIMALS AROUND THESE PARTS!! THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR NEWS AND DILIGENCE. BARB"
"Theresa,The most heartfelt thanks to you and everyone else at Willing Servants for helping make yesterday's conviction become a reality. It was the sweetest news I've heard in so very long. From my household and critters to yours, thank you, thank you!April Christofferson"
"CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Theresa, you and your wonderful friends and helpmates have made this a better world. I am so proud to know you and to be a small part of this effort. All my friends and loved ones join me in saying THANK YOU!
with love and encouragement. Jane Aldrich"
"Congratulations to you, your volunteers and especially to the horses. I know it took a lot of effort for folks to come to the courthouse and spend their day there. I'm sorry I was not able to join you. I was with you in spirit. Debora Lay EAP Equine SpecialistHaven's HorsesHamilton, MT"
Thanks for all the support you and your organization gave to the humans and animals involved. I appreciated your upbeat nature and your obvious foundation for all of us to lean and build upon! I appreciated your call. May our paths cross again without the stress of abuse! Jesse Applebury"
"Yeeeeaaaaa hoooooo!!!!! It couldn't be better!!!!! Good For You Theresa! You worked hard for that one, and lots of people are very happy for what has been done! And what is going to be done in the future! God Bless, Jeanne Burruss"
I love your emails :-). You are sooooo good! I ran later than expected at my appointment so I was unable to make it to the Edge in time to join everyone...my loss. I am sooooo happy with this outcome, as I know we all are...this is sooooo amazing! And kudo's to all of you who were able to
make it to court day after day....I'm sorry I couldn't be there....school is
school .... see you soon and God Bless! Nancy"
"Hi Theresa! I can't tell you what an impact this case has had on me. When I got that great, great, call from Joyce (when I was in Missoula), I cried for happiness! What WONDERFUL news, thanks to you Theresa. I hope you got "my" hug from Joyce! And I loved seeing you guys on t.v.. What a fantastic group we have - we're all close friends to each other. I respect "everyone" in our club. It's the best organization I've ever been involved in. That was something, you being there until midnight last night......boy, I wish I was there today. I'm just amazed how you've created a fantastic upgrade in our laws ... I'll get some good sleep tonight, finally!!! Take Care - Dale"