Updated: Trial Gets Underway in Wicomico County Animal Cruelty - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: Trial Gets Underway in Wicomico County Animal Cruelty Case

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A Wicomico County Sheriff's Office and a Wicomico County Animal Control officer stand by a dead horse discovered Friday on a property outside Hebron, Md.  (Photo: Chopper 16) A Wicomico County Sheriff's Office and a Wicomico County Animal Control officer stand by a dead horse discovered Friday on a property outside Hebron, Md. (Photo: Chopper 16)

HEBRON, Md.- The first day of a bench trial got underway Tuesday in Wicomico County, Md., in one of the county's most closely watched animal cruelty cases involving horses.

Barbara Pilchard, 75, is facing more than 60 animal cruelty charges, 16 of which are felonies. This after WBOC Chopper 16 made the shocking discovery of dozens of dead horses, along with numerous other horses living in deplorable conditions on a farm on Cherry Walk Road in Hebron on March 16, 2018. 

During Tuesday morning's court action, both the defense and prosecution waived opening statements and began calling witnesses, including two Wicomico County sheriff's deputies and multiple veterinarians. 

The deputies took the stand first to share their observations about when they arrived on the farm on March 16, 2018. One of the deputies said Pilchard refused to treat an visibly injured and flailing horse he observed in the pasture.  

Both deputies testified that Pilchard told them horses had died, but didn’t know how many.  Deputies explained Pilchard told them weather conditions made it so she could not compost their bodies so she left them for buzzards to eat.

All witnesses described the farm property as being wet and muddy. All of the state's witnesses said they witnessed multiple dead, decomposing bodies.

Dr. Daryl Insley, an expert veterinarian witness who owns Layfield Veterinary Services in Princess Anne and Pocomoke City, was asked by the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office to evaluate the surviving horses. Insley said four horses had to be euthanized due to weak conditions and because they could not get them to sit up by themselves.

Insley said skeletal remains were found in various spots on the property. He said bales of hay were on the ground, but were not kept away from rain.  Insley explained wet hay can easily develop mold and is bad for horses to eat due to bacteria that is present.

No clean water sources were identified by Insley that was available to the horses except for a groundwater pond that developed.  Insley aid he discovered a horse's rib cage and bones inside that pond. 

Other expert veterinarian pathologists took the stand during the afternoon to go over the necropsy results from the four horses that were euthanized on March 16th. Three of those horses were said to be emaciated and had body fat contents around 20-percent, according to necropsy results. The other foal was a stillborn. 

Of the other 12 horses that were rescued from the Hebron farm, three were later euthanized because of poor health factors.  Expert witnesses identified most of those horses as being emaciated, malnourished and having various forms of parasitism.

The defense called two witnesses to the stand on Tuesday, both helped Pilchard personally on the farm with hay bails and farm equipment.  Both of those witnesses said they had not seen the dead, decaying horses on the farm during their visits to the property.

During courtroom testimony it was noted that more than 100 horses but most were emaciated and malnourished on the property during the discovery on March 16, 2018. 

Pilchard is expected to give her witness testimony on Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m.  She is expected to be the last witness of the defense. 

All of the witnesses have been sequestered and cannot speak about the case until trial concludes.

A judge will have the final ruling on this case.  A verdict is expected is to be given on Wednesday.

As far as the horses are concerned, the Wicomico County Humane Society confirmed that after their discovery all of the surviving horses were removed from the farm. Some were taken to new homes as far away as Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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