Split Verdict in Wicomico County Animal Cruelty Case - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Split Verdict in Wicomico County Animal Cruelty Case

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Barbara Pilchard is shown last week outside Wicomico County Circuit Court. (Photo: WBOC) Barbara Pilchard is shown last week outside Wicomico County Circuit Court. (Photo: WBOC)

SALISBURY, Md.- A Wicomico County on trial in a highly publicized animal cruelty case involving more than 100 horses that were found dead or neglected early last year has been cleared of all felony charges, but found guilty of a long list of misdemeanors.

Barbara Pilchard, 75, of Hebron, appeared in Wicomico County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon where a judge found her guilty on 39 misdemeanor charges out of the 56 counts she faced. 

"[Judge Seaton] obviously put a lot of thought and measured judgement into it and we really appreciated the way she went through it and her analysis of it. I think she held Ms. Pilchard accountable which is exactly what needed to happen today," District State's Attorney Bill McDermott said.

Those charges involved 13 of Pilchard's horses, four of which that were euthanized on the scene and three that were euthanized later. The other seven horses are still alive and at other farms a year after.

For each of the 13 horses, Pilchard was found guilty of three misdemeanors: animal cruelty, neglect/insufficient food and neglect/insufficient veterinary care. For the death of a 14th horse, Pilchard was found not guilty. 

Pilchard was also found not guilty of 16 animal cruelty felony charges.

"Certainly we believed in the felony charges and we put our best efforts forward and that's what happens right? You go into court, you present your evidence and a fact finder, a detached and neutral magistrate makes a decision she made a decision and we certainly respect it and appreciate it," McDermott said.

This was a bench trial and the judge has deferred sentencing pending the outcome of a pre-sentence investigation, which is expected to take anywhere from 60-90 days. Pilchard will not be allowed to have animals on her property until after sentencing, if indeed the judge permits that.

The case stems from the discovery of at least 25 dead horses, along with dozens of other horses living in deplorable conditions on Pilchard's farm on Cherry Walk Road near Hebron on March 16, 2018.

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