Two rethink guilty pleas in case of animal cruelty

The Delta County couple facing 11 counts of animal cruelty will raise a challenge to the guilty plea they offered this spring to the original cruelty charge.

When Charles and Patricia Keune appear before Delta County Judge Sandra K. Miller next month, they will challenge the guilty plea they offered in March in connection with the death of a horse they owned.

Miller was unsurprised that the Keunes will question that guilty plea, said their attorney, T. Michael Holmes of Grand Junction.

The Keunes seemed unaware that 11 separate cruelty charges were pending against them at the time they pleaded guilty in the original case, Holmes said.

Under the original plea, the Keunes agreed to a deferred judgment and sentence in which they surrendered five horses and six head of cattle to authorities and were prohibited from owning any other livestock. The conviction would be voided if they avoided any run-ins with the law for two years.

Animal cruelty is a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a possible two-year jail sentence. 

The Keunes face one charge for each of the animals removed from their residence at 13244 Road 2900. The original charge related to an incident March 12 in which a renderer said Charles Keune called her to pick up a dead horse at his property.

The horse, however, wasn’t dead, the renderer, April Wilson said, and in fact was alert and ate hay from her hand.

When Wilson advised Keune that the horse needed only food and water, Keune walked away from her, Wilson said.

Wilson was called a few hours late to pick up the horse, which by then had died, Wilson said.


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