Fate Of 18 Starving Horses Uncertain

YERINGTON, NV - Judge Richard Glass from Douglas County is presiding over the proceedings in Lyon County.

Justice of the Peace Michael Fletcher has taken himself off the case.

At Walker River Justice Court, Laura Smith faces 18 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty to which she pleads not guilty.

For the next five hours perhaps the more pressing issue, what happens to the 18 horses now in the custody of the county.

In late July they were taken from Smith's Heritage Ranch just outside of Yerington.

The ranch professed to be a non-profit rescue operation for horses.

But according to a veterinarian who accompanied sheriffs deputies, and state agriculture inspectors, the 18 horses needed to be rescued from the Dove Lane property.

“I believe these horses were not fed enough food,” testified Dr. Jamie Hustace, a local large animal vet.

According to Dr. Hustace, "they were starving, they ate when we fed them."

But that explanation wasn't good enough for Smith's attorney, John Schlegelmilch

He tried to convince the court, Smith wasn't cruel to the horses.

Their body composition of exposed ribs and bulging hip bones he says was due to worms.

Smith he claims was doing what she could by buying dewormer.

He could put her on the stand Friday

We don't know if the judge will rule immediately from the bench, but we do know court resumes at 9 Friday morning.