I spoke to the attorney for Christine O’Rourke and David Antoine after the sentencing. “They were caught up in a vortex of uncontrollable circumstances,” he said. “Many ranchers have had to sell cattle because of bad times, and this situation is little different.”
Except, instead of selling animals that they could no longer afford, Christine and David let their herbivorous animals starve, and then fed them to the carnivorous animals.
The Attorney indicated most of the trouble arose from a neighborly dispute, and then terminated the interview. But Deputies responding to the home in February upon the complaint of a dead llama found a dog running through the property with part of a horse’s leg in its mouth.
The horse’s name was Roy.
They told Deputies they were unaware that the llama had died. The name of the llama was not known at the time of publication.
During a search of the property, two kittens were found dead, frozen in plastic bags. It is not clear if they had names.
At the sentencing, David was clearly angry and expressed that he was unfairly characterized as an abuser of animals. Christine similarly expressed to Judge Holmes that their intention was to simply provide for animals in need. They were overcome by compassion for animals, and took in more animals than they should have because they did not want to see them euthanized at shelters.
Judge Holmes was obviously moved by the explanation of their behavior, and believed its veracity. Which apparently contributed to his order that they undergo psychiatric evaluation.
David, wisely, and with considerable exertion of self control, refrained from insulting the Judge or its Court, but did express his desire to do so.
Christine and David were also sentenced by Judge Holmes to 5 years probation for two second degree cruelty to animals. They pled guilty in a plea bargain. In addition to probation, they were sentenced to 90 days in-home detention, a $1,000 fine each, plus restitution totaling around $2,000. They must also complete a mental health evaluation. They are limited to own only 3 cats or dogs.
At the sentencing, they asked Judge Holmes for permission to have 3 cats or dogs each, in consideration for the very elderly dogs and cats that would be euthanized if taken to a shelter. This was denied because of the heinous nature of their particular crime and in consideration that this is their second offense: in 2012, they were sentenced to probation for animal cruelty and the latest violation violated the condition of that probation as well.
They had violated their 2012 probation terms by obtaining new animals, and committing new criminal offenses.
Animal Control is re-homing or sheltering eight horses, two miniature horses, two donkeys, 15 dogs, seven puppies, four cats, one potbellied pig, two birds (an African Grey Parrot and a Cockatoo), numerous goats and numerous poultry. They are under orders from Judge Holmes to attempt to re-home and not euthanize the older dogs and cats, and to work with Christine and David to do so.
According to the Sheriff's Office, most of the horses were underweight and did not have access to food or water.
Two goats have already had to be euthanized because of poor health.
Contributing to the increase of animals at their property was the birth of puppies and kittens. This led Judge Holmes to additionally require that all animals in their possession be sterilized.