Plea agreement reached in Bedford animal cruelty case
Monday, April 17, 2017 3:02 PM
A woman charged with allowing at least 19 horses and dozens of other animals to starve to death on her Perkinson Lane farm near Bedford, Ky., entered an Alford plea last week to one count of animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor, and one count of improper disposal of carcasses, a Class B misdemeanor.
Marlena Robinson, 33, was arrested on 54 counts of cruelty and 43 counts of improper disposal in February after animal control officers from Trimble and Henry counties obtained a search warrant for the property where the remains were found along with 13 other horses suffering from starvation. The counts were merged into one of each.
A Class C felony charge of theft by deception, involving three mares Robinson had leased from a horse owner in Washington State, but allegedly never paid for, was reduced to a misdemeanor count. Robinson was ordered to pay $8,000 in restitution to the owner. One of those horses was identified among the dead found on Robinson’s property, one is suspected to be dead and the third is recovering at Windy Meadows Equestrian Center near La Grange, where all the surviving animals have been recovering under the care of veterinarians and owner Ellie Troutman.
The Alford plea is a guilty plea, in which a person maintains his or her innocence but admits the evidence would likely persuade a judge or jury to find them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Circuit Court Judge Diana E. Wheeler sentenced Robinson to 12 months in jail, which was conditionally changed to two years probation. During that time, she is not to commit any other offenses and must pay $10,000 in restitution, with $5,000 going to Windy Meadows and $5,000 going to Trimble County Fiscal Court. Wheeler ordered that Robinson make monthly payments of $150 per month until the amount is paid off.
The two-year probation period could be extended up to 60 months while she makes restitution, according to court records.
Wheeler also ordered that Robinson undergo a mental health assessment before her next hearing, May 23, and must follow all recommendations resulting from that assessment.
Further, Robinson was ordered to relinquish her rights to all of the horses at Troutman’s farm, free and clear; relinquish all rights to two dogs – a French bulldog and a boxer – to Trimble County Animal Control; and is prohibited from owning any other animals for two years and supervised contact with animals owned by others.
Wheeler ordered that animal control officers may inspect Robinson’s property during those two years to ensure she is in compliance.
Wheeler will review the case and Robinson’s progress in meeting the terms of the agreement on July 18.
“It has been a long journey,” Troutman said in an email response to a request for comment. “The horses are on the road to recovery and new lives. I am grateful to everyone who supported our efforts.
Troutman said she is pleased that the judge ordered the mental-health evaluation. Though she acknowledged she is not trained in psychology, “I honestly believe” that Robinson’s situation stems from psychological issues. “Getting mentally ill people help is paramount.”