SUMMITVILLE, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana couple charged in an animal cruelty case that shocked the state last spring could be getting close to a plea agreement that would avert an April trial.
The Herald Bulletin reports prosecutors and attorneys for Daniel and Carrie Ault are working on a deal as the April 1 trial date nears. The Aults face 96 charges of improper disposal of a dead animal, 15 counts of animal cruelty and two counts of neglect of a dependent child.
Investigators found 171 animals that were dead and rotting and 165 that were still alive when they arrived at the Aults’ property near Summitville, about 70 miles northeast of Indianapolis, on April 9, 2013. County officials said they found the living animals among the carcasses of horses, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, cats and dogs. Most of the surviving animals were malnourished and lacked clean water, and animal and human feces were everywhere, investigators said.
One 15-year-old mini-mare named Brownie weighed only 95 pounds when she was rescued, and other animals were described as “walking skeletons.”
Some of the dead animals were so decomposed that investigators couldn’t tell what they were, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case.
Prosecutor Rodney Cummings called the case “unprecedented.” The case prompted Madison County officials to toughen their animal protection laws.
Daniel Ault told police he believed the animals had been dying since November 2012 and that he lacked the necessary machinery to dispose of the carcasses. He said he’d gotten “overwhelmed” as he tried to tend to the animals, help with the Strawtown Auction and run his meat-packing business in Grant County.
Officials say Madison County spent about $30,000 to clean up the property and bury the carcasses in a giant pit near the farm.
Cummings and defense attorney Bryan Williams said they believe the state and the Aults are close on a plea agreement.
The Aults have moved to another location outside Madison County, Williams said. Many of the rescued animals have found new homes.
Information from: The Herald Bulletin, http://www.theheraldbulletin.com