Ex-SC ag official's brother denies horse abuse

By: By MEG KINNARD, Associated Press Writer
By: By MEG KINNARD, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A disbarred lawyer says he and two family members - one a former South Carolina agriculture official - did not starve dozens of horses and should not have been charged.

"This case should never have been brought," said Terry
Trexler, a former lawyer and the brother of former assistant
agriculture commissioner James Trexler. "I love animals. It's
insulting to me to be accused of this because I've never done
this."

Terry Trexler is suing prosecutors, the South Carolina Humane
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a forensic
veterinarian and the family's own attorneys. He contends in
lawsuits filed Wednesday that the case has been mishandled and
accuses those involved of "maliciously conspiring" to bring
charges.

In early 2008, the Trexlers and their mother, Hazelene Trexler,
were charged with misdemeanor and felony animal abuse after
authorities seized nearly four dozen horses they were accused of
mistreating.

Terry Trexler, who broke nearly a year of silence in a recent
interview with The Associated Press, said the case turned his
family upside down. James Trexler, 49, resigned from his state
agriculture post after he was charged with ill treatment of
animals.

Terry Trexler also faces a kidnapping charge over what he says
he considers a citizen's arrest. He is accused of preventing a
Humane Society worker from leaving property he and his mother
leased. Hazelene Trexler, 72, spent about two weeks in jail after
her arrest.

All three have pleaded not guilty.

"I'm the biggest animal lover in the world," said Terry
Trexler, 45. "For anybody to tell me that I'm an animal abuser is
an insult. I take that as a slap in the absolute face."

In all, 45 horses were seized from three parcels of land.
Officials said the horses were underweight, and a spokeswoman for
the Humane Society said no hay could be found on the properties.

Terry and Hazelene Trexler also face animal cruelty charges in
Georgia, where 25 Arabian horses authorities seized in South
Carolina had previously been kept. An official there described some
of them as looking liking someone had "draped a hide over bones."

Terry Trexler declined to talk about the Georgia charges, but
said no horse belonging to the family has ever been mistreated or
underfed. He blamed an apparent lack of animal food on a regional
hay shortage and said the horses were instead being fed grain which
- unlike hay - is parceled out to the animals and not left out.

"The whole Southeast was being murdered by hot, humid
weather," Trexler said. "We were feeding those horses grain, and
we were watering them."

Prosecutor Barney Giese's office and the American Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, both named in the lawsuits,
declined comment.

Humane Society spokeswoman Kelly Graham and Dr. Michael Privett,
a veterinarian hired by the Humane Society to care for the seized
animals, said they had not been served with the lawsuit and could
not immediately comment.

Graham said two of the Trexlers' horses died after they were
removed from their land, one of complications stemming from low
body weight and colic, the other from an intestine that ruptured
because it was blocked. But four healthy foals have been born to
other seized horses. The Humane Society has spent about $85,000 to
care for the herd.

Trexler, a former lawyer, was disbarred by the state Supreme
Court in 2001 for misconduct in two dozen client cases and breach
of trust, blackmail and conspiracy convictions. He declared
bankruptcy in 2002.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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