Warrants issued in Delta County animal cruelty case

The Delta County couple who pleaded guilty last month to a single count each of animal cruelty failed to appear in court Wednesday, when they were to be arraigned on 11 more counts each.

Had Charles Kuene, 49, and Patricia Kuene, 54, appeared before Delta County Judge Sandra K. Miller, they would have learned the additional charges were likely to be dropped.

The Kuenes instead are subject to arrest on $1,500 bench warrants Miller issued when they were no-shows in her court.

The Kuenes also were to have dealt with whether they would have to attend anger-management classes as a part of their agreement on their original animal-cruelty case.

Prosecutor Anna Cooling said her office was considering dropping the 11 charges because of the likelihood double jeopardy would attach to them as a result of the original guilty pleas.

That decision wasn’t to take place until Wednesday, though, Cooling said.

In any case, the Kuenes are prohibited by their agreement from owning livestock for two years.

That agreement also calls for them to have no additional troubles with the law for the same time. If they can do that, the agreement, called a deferred judgment, would wipe away their guilty pleas.

The 11 animals taken from their property all have been placed elsewhere. The six horses were placed with Spirit Wind Horse Rescue in Crawford, where officials said their condition is improving. The cattle were sold, authorities said.

“I’m happy with the outcome so far,” especially the prohibition on the Kuenes owning livestock, Cooling said of the agreement.

The Kuenes are subject to arrest even if they appear in the courthouse, authorities said.

Delta County Undersheriff Mark Taylor said he had intended to call them to remind them of their court date, but he was unable to do so.

Taylor said he couldn’t say whether the Kuenes would be sought out for arrest.


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